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
Q3 Qualifiers Team Time Gap
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
Q2 Qualifiers Team Time Gap*
5. Pepe Oriola es Team OSCARO by Campos Racing 2:11.101 + 0.771
6. Frédéric Vervisch be Audi Sport Team Comtoyou 2:11.101 + 0.771
7. Gabriele Tarquini it 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 be Boutsen Ginion Racing excluded
Q1 Qualifiers Team Time Gap**
11. Yann Ehrlacher ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport 2:11.186 + 0.649
12. Kevin Ceccon it Mulsanne SRL 2:11.198 + 0.661
13. Fabrizio Giovanardi it 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 be 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

Post-Qualifying Penalties:

  • 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

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.