Team WRT has secured a qualifying lockout in the FIA World Touring Car Cup round at Wuhan in China, with Gordon Shedden claiming the first pole position of his WTCR career following teammate Jean-Karl Vernay’s similar effort on Saturday.
The duo topped each of the three mini-sessions during this morning’s qualifying session, with Vernay quickest in Q1 before Shedden upped the stakes in the second knockout session. The last of the five drivers in the field to run in the final one-lap shootout for pole, the Scot narrowly claimed top spot by less than five-hundredths of a second.
As was the case on Saturday, qualifying was something of an Audi benefit with four of the five spots in Q3 claimed by the field’s six RS 3 LMS runners. Joining Shedden in Q3 was his teammate Vernay, along with the Comtoyou Racing Audis of Frédéric Vervisch and Denis Dupont. The only non-Audi runner in the quintet was Esteban Guerrieri in the Münnich Motorsport Honda.
A mistake on his flying lap saw Saturday pole-sitter and race-winner Vernay drop in behind Vervisch and Dupont on the timesheets in Q3, before Shedden was able to snatch pole position from the Belgian with a rapid final sector.
Saddled with the highest compensation weight in the field this weekend, none of the four championship-leading Hyundais made it out of the opening phase of qualifying. Thed Björk, a two-time winner at last weekend’s round in Ningbo, was best placed of the quartet in fourteenth behind Rob Huff’s Sébastien Loeb Racing VW Golf GTI.
The session was similarly disastrous for championship frontrunner Yann Ehrlacher, who qualified a dreadful 21st in his Münnich Honda. The Frenchman’s title aspirations look set to take a major hit as he will be at long odds to score any points this weekend.
Series rookie Kevin Ceccon showed he was quickly adapting to touring car racing by making Q2 for the first time in his brief tin-top career. The Italian qualified twelfth-fastest in his Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo.
Huff’s SLR teammate Mehdi Bennani will start the reversed grid Race 2 from pole position, with he and Comtoyou Racing’s Aurélien Panis posting identical times in Q2. The Moroccan claimed tenth place on the timesheets and the major grid advantage by setting his time earlier than the French youngster.
He will share the front row of the Race 2 grid with local driver Ma Qing Hua, who qualified a fine ninth-fastest in his Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda.
Race 2, scheduled to be run over 18 laps, takes place at 15:45 local time (GMT +8), with the 21-lap Race following shortly after at 17:05.
|2018 FIA World Touring Car Cup Race of China Wuhan – Races 2 & 3 Final Qualifying Results|
|1.||Gordon Shedden||Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team||1:22.776|
|2.||Frédéric Vervisch||Audi Sport Team Comtoyou||1:22.875||+ 0.049|
|3.||Denis Dupont||Comtoyou Racing||1:22.959||+ 0.183|
|4.||Jean-Karl Vernay||Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team||1:23.022||+ 0.246|
|5.||Esteban Guerrieri||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||1:23.744||+ 0.968|
|6.||Nathanaël Berthon||Comtoyou Racing||1:23.051||+ 0.553|
|7.||Pepe Oriola||Team OSCARO by Campos Racing||1:23.068||+ 0.570|
|8.||Aurélien Comte||DG Sport Compétition||1:23.081||+ 0.583|
|9.||Ma Qing Hua||Boutsen Ginion Racing||1:23.083||+ 0.585|
|10.||Mehdi Bennani||Sébastien Loeb Racing||1:23.148||+ 0.650|
|11.||Aurélien Panis||Comtoyou Racing||1:23.148||+ 0.650|
|12.||Kevin Ceccon||Mulsanne SRL||1:23.333||+ 0.835|
|13.||Rob Huff||Sébastien Loeb Racing||1:23.342||+ 0.518|
|14.||Thed Björk||MRacing – YMR||1:23.346||+ 0.522|
|15.||Yvan Muller||MRacing – YMR||1:23.433||+ 0.609|
|16.||Gabriele Tarquini||BRC Racing Team||1:23.488||+ 0.664|
|17.||John Filippi||Team OSCARO by Campos Racing||1:23.547||+ 0.723|
|18.||Timo Scheider||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||1:23.578||+ 0.754|
|19.||Zsolt Dávid Szabó||Zengõ Motorsport||1:23.656||+ 0.832|
|20.||Mat’o Homola||DG Sport Compétition||1:23.663||+ 0.839|
|21.||Yann Ehrlacher||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||1:23.709||+ 0.885|
|22.||Norbert Michelisz||BRC Racing Team||1:23.937||+ 1.113|
|23.||Norbert Nagy||Zengõ Motorsport||1:23.995||+ 1.171|
|24.||Tom Coronel||Boutsen Ginion Racing||1:24.150||+ 1.326|
|25.||Fabrizio Giovanardi||Mulsanne SRL||1:24.931||+ 1.795|
* Denotes gap to the fastest Q2 qualifying time of 1:22.498 posted by Gordon Shedden
** Denotes gap to the fastest Q1 qualifying time of 1:22.824 posted by Jean-Karl Vernay
- Tom Coronel will serve a 10-place grid penalty for Race 2 after being found to have caused an avoidable collision with Fabrizio Giovanardi during Race 1.
Image via FIA WTCR Media
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