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|
|1.||Thed Björk||MRacing – YMR||1:51.028|
|2.||Frédéric Vervisch||Audi Sport Team Comtoyou||1:51.081||+ 0.053|
|3.||Norbert Michelisz||BRC Racing Team||1:51.157||+ 0.129|
|4.||Gabriele Tarquini||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||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||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||Boutsen Ginion Racing||1:51.889||+ 0.861|
|18.||Kevin Ceccon||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||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|
- 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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