Less than a day after being stripped of a front-row start alongside teammate Gabriele Tarquini, Norbert Michelisz bounced back to claim pole position for the final FIA World Touring Car Cup race of the weekend at the Slovakia Ring.
The Hungarian driver narrowly outpaced the impressive DG Peugeot 308TCR of Aurélien Comte in his BRC Racing Hyundai i30 N TCR, with the French youngster making his maiden appearance in the top-five shootout for pole.
Ominously, Michelisz topped the first and second segments of qualifying before going on to post a 2:10.340 effort on his flying lap in Q3 – just one-hundredth of a second slower than the time he managed to claim top spot in Q2.
The Q1 session produced a number of surprise scalps thanks to late improvements by the Comtoyou Racing Audis of Frédéric Vervisch and Nathanaël Berthon. The duo managed to knock championship frontrunner Yann Ehrlacher out of a tilt at Q2, leaving the Frenchman thirteenth on the grid in his Münnich Motorsport Honda for Races 2 and 3.
It was even worse for YMR Hyundai driver Thed Björk. The Swede started from the back of the grid in Friday’s opening race thanks to an engine change penalty and despite a hard charge he finished out of the points. He looks set to have another uphill battle after qualifying a lowly 19th-fastest.
The second phase of qualifying saw Michelisz progressing to Q3 with the impressive Comte. John Filippi also enjoyed his best ever qualifying performance, with the Campos Racing driver third-quickest in his Cupra ahead of Yvan Muller and Esteban Guerrieri.
Guerrieri was the first driver on track in Q3 and his solid time of 2:11.078 proved too good for Muller and Filippi. Comte pulled out a rapid first sector to then snatch provisional pole by over half a second before Michelisz predictably stole the show once more.
The second race of the weekend takes place at 19:00 today (GMT +2).
|2018 FIA World Touring Car Cup Race of Slovakia – Races 2 & 3 Final Qualifying Results|
|1.||Norbert Michelisz||BRC Racing Team||2:10.340|
|2.||Aurélien Comte||DG Sport Compétition||2:10.577||+ 0.237|
|3.||Yvan Muller||MRacing – YMR||2:11.078||+ 0.760|
|4.||John Filippi||Team OSCARO by Campos Racing||2:11.100||+ 1.291|
|EXC.||Esteban Guerrieri||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||excluded|
|5.||Pepe Oriola||Team OSCARO by Campos Racing||2:11.101||+ 0.771|
|6.||Frédéric Vervisch||Audi Sport Team Comtoyou||2:11.101||+ 0.771|
|7.||Gabriele Tarquini||BRC Racing Team||2:11.150||+ 0.820|
|8.||Norbert Nagy||Zengõ Motorsport||2:11.197||+ 0.867|
|9.||Nathanaël Berthon||Comtoyou Racing||2:11.255||+ 0.925|
|10.||Jean-Karl Vernay||Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team||2:11.197||+ 1.103|
|EXC.||Benjamin Lessennes||Boutsen Ginion Racing||excluded|
|11.||Yann Ehrlacher||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||2:11.186||+ 0.649|
|12.||Kevin Ceccon||Mulsanne SRL||2:11.198||+ 0.661|
|13.||Fabrizio Giovanardi||Mulsanne SRL||2:11.268||+ 0.731|
|14.||Aurélien Panis||Comtoyou Racing||2:11.279||+ 0.742|
|15.||Petr Fulín||Fullin Racing Academy||2:11.326||+ 0.789|
|16.||Thed Björk||MRacing – YMR||2:11.685||+ 1.148|
|17.||Mat’o Homola||DG Sport Compétition||2:11.801||+ 1.264|
|18.||Zsolt Dávid Szabó||Zengõ Motorsport||2:11.813||+ 1.276|
|19.||Gordon Shedden||Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team||2:12.028||+ 1.491|
|20.||Denis Dupont||Comtoyou Racing||2:12.169||+ 1.632|
|21.||Mehdi Bennani||Sébastien Loeb Racing||2:12.197||+ 1.660|
|22.||Rob Huff||Sébastien Loeb Racing||2:12.375||+ 1.838|
|23.||Andrej Studenič||Brutal Fish Racing||2:13.666||+ 3.129|
|EXC.||Tom Coronel||Boutsen Ginion Racing||excluded|
* Denotes gap to fastest Q2 qualifying time of 2:10.330 posted by Norbert Michelisz
** Denotes gap to fastest Q1 qualifying time of 2:10.537 posted by Norbert Michelisz
- Esteban Guerrieri – who was provisionally 3rd fastest – was excluded from qualifying for failing post-scrutineering checks (excessive boost pressure)
- Benjamin Lessennes – who was provisionally 8th fastest – was excluded from qualifying for failing post-scrutineering checks (excessive boost pressure)
- Tom Coronel – who was provisionally fastest – was excluded from qualifying for failing post-scrutineering checks (excessive boost pressure)
Image via FIA WTCR Media