Thed Björk will start Race 1 of the FIA World Touring Car Cup round at China’s Ningbo International Speedpark from pole position. The Swede earned his fourth pole position of the season ahead of a standout performance by Frédéric Vervisch in the Comtoyou Racing Audi who will start alongside him on the front row of the grid.

Vervisch had held provisional pole position until a late effort from Björk; the YMR Hyundai driver beat the Belgian driver’s benchmark time by a scant 0.053 seconds. Vervisch was unable to counter-attack, having damaged his Audi RS 3 LMS’ radiator.

The second row of the grid was an all-BRC Racing Team affair, with Norbert Michelisz and championship leader Gabriele Tarquini claiming third and fourth in their Hyundai i30 N TCR entries. Tarquini will, however, take a five-place grid penalty for causing a multi-car collision in the final race of the previous round at the Slovakia Ring.

Esteban Guerrieri was fifth-fastest for Münnich Motorsport and the best-placed of the Honda runners. Vervisch’s teammate Nathanaël Berthon qualified a season’s best sixth-fastest, while Zsolt Szabó was an impressive seventh-quickest in his Zengő Motorsport Cupra.

In a strong qualifying session for Comtoyou Racing, Denis Dupont qualified eighth ahead of the Sébastien Loeb Racing duo of Rob Huff and Mehdi Bennani in their Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR entries.

Björk, Michelisz and Tarquini aside, a number of championship frontrunners had poor qualifying sessions. Yann Ehrlacher could manage no better than twelfth-fastest in his Münnich Motorsport Honda, one spot ahead of Björk’s YMR teammate Yvan Muller. Team WRT’s Jean-Karl Vernay was fifteenth-fastest in his Audi.

Race 1, scheduled over 13 laps, gets underway at 15:30 local time (GMT +8).

2018 FIA World Touring Car Cup Race of China Ningbo – Race 1 Final Qualifying Results
Driver Team Time Gap
1. Thed Björk MRacing – YMR 1:51.028
2. Frédéric Vervisch be Audi Sport Team Comtoyou 1:51.081 + 0.053
3. Norbert Michelisz BRC Racing Team 1:51.157 + 0.129
4. Gabriele Tarquini it BRC Racing Team 1:51.202 + 0.174
5. Esteban Guerrieri ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport 1:51.428 + 0.400
6. Nathanaël Berthon Comtoyou Racing 1:51.456 + 0.428
7. Zsolt Dávid Szabó Zengõ Motorsport 1:51.523 + 0.495
8. Denis Dupont be Comtoyou Racing 1:51.564 + 0.536
9. Rob Huff Sébastien Loeb Racing 1:51.578 + 0.550
10. Mehdi Bennani Sébastien Loeb Racing 1:51.675 + 0.647
11. Pepe Oriola es Team OSCARO by Campos Racing 1:51.678 + 0.650
12. Yann Ehrlacher ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport 1:51.734 + 0.706
13. Yvan Muller MRacing – YMR 1:51.740 + 0.712
14. Aurélien Panis Comtoyou Racing 1:51.759 + 0.731
15. Jean-Karl Vernay Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team 1:51.808 + 0.780
16. Norbert Nagy Zengõ Motorsport 1:51.887 + 0.859
17. Ma Qing Hua cn Boutsen Ginion Racing 1:51.889 + 0.861
18. Kevin Ceccon it Mulsanne SRL 1:51.963 + 0.935
19. Timo Scheider ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport 1:52.308 + 1.280
20. John Filippi Team OSCARO by Campos Racing 1:52.382 + 1.354
21. Gordon Shedden Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team 1:52.649 + 1.621
22. Tom Coronel Boutsen Ginion Racing 1:52.850 + 1.822
23. Fabrizio Giovanardi it Mulsanne SRL 1:52.893 + 1.865
24. Mat’o Homola DG Sport Compétition 1:53.388 + 2.360
25. Aurélien Comte DG Sport Compétition 1:53.431 + 2.403

Post-Qualifying Penalties:

  • Gabriele Tarquini and Norbert Nagy will each serve a five-place grid penalty for causing avoidable collisions in Race 3 of the Slovakia round.
  • Mat’o Homola and Aurélien Comte will start from the back of the grid for unscheduled engine changes.

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.