Audi driver Frédéric Vervisch has denied the new Lynk & Co car brand a front-row lockout in Sunday’s second qualifying session for the FIA World Touring Car Cup Race of Morocco.
The Comtoyou Racing driver – who beat his more fancied Audi stablemates to be the carmaker’s top-ranked driver in the 2018 WTCR standings – was fastest in Q2 and repeated the dose in the one-lap shootout for pole in Q3.
His final time, a 1:24.721, was just over a tenth slower than his best effort in Q2, but it proved enough to earn him pole position by over three-tenths of a second for the third and final race of the weekend.
Neither of Cyan Racing drivers, Yvan Muller nor Thed Björk, was able to better Vervisch’s time and will start from second and third respectively, ahead of the KCMG Honda of Tiago Monteiro and WTCR rookie Mikel Azcona’s PWR Racing Cupra.
As was the case in Saturday’s long-format qualifying session, Sunday’s three-part knockout format proved incredibly competitive. The first session saw all but two drivers lap within one second of the fastest provisional time posted by Björk.
A frantic session saw a number of high-profile drivers fail to make it into the next phase of qualifying.
Ma Qing Hua headlined the list as the first not to make the cut. The Chinese driver missed out on a top-twelve berth by just 0.037 seconds in his Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo.
Two of the four Hyundai i30 N TCRs also failed to graduate to Q2, with Augusto Farfus and Norbert Michelisz qualifying 14th- and 15th-quickest.
Another surprise knockout was three-time WTCC title-winner Andy Priaulx; the Lynk & Co driver missed the cut by two-tenths of a second.
Qualifying was a disaster for VW customer team Sébastien Loeb Racing, which saw all four of its Golf GTIs eliminated from proceedings. Rob Huff will lead the team’s charge from the back of the grid in 19th, with stablemates Mehdi Bennani (23rd), Johan Kristoffersson (24th) and Benjamin Leuchter (25th) further behind.
The subsequent Q2 session saw the twelve-car field covered by just seven-tenths of a second, with those who subsequently made it through to Q3 covered by 0.265 seconds.
Yann Ehrlacher was the fastest driver not to make the top-five shootout, falling just 0.064 seconds shy of uncle Yvan Muller’s effort in his Lynk & Co. The youngster qualified sixth-fastest ahead of Saturday race-winner Esteban Guerrieri (Münnich Motorsport Honda) and Jean-Karl Vernay (WRT Audi), with the latter damaging his front splitter over the kerbs.
The two remaining BRC Racing Hyundais of Gabriele Tarquini and Nicky Catsburg qualified ninth- and tenth-fastest overall, which will give them a front-row lockout for Sunday’s reversed-grid Race 2.
Slowest in Q2, Néstor Girolami (Münnich Motorsport Honda) and Gordon Shedden (WRT Audi) will start Race 2 and Race 3 from eleventh and twelfth respectively.
|2019 FIA WTCR Race of Morocco – Race 2 & 3 Qualifying Results|
|Q3 Qualifiers||Team / Entry||Time||Gap|
|1.||Frédéric Vervisch||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||1:24.721|
|2.||Yvan Muller||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||1:25.091||+ 0.370|
|3.||Thed Björk||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||1:25.224||+ 0.503|
|4.||Tiago Monteiro||KCMG||1:25.593||+ 0.872|
|5.||Mikel Azcona||PWR Racing||1:25.639||+ 0.918|
|Q2 Qualifiers||Team / Entry||Time||Gap*|
|6.||Yann Ehrlacher||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||1:24.919||+ 0.329|
|7.||Esteban Guerrieri||Münnich Motorsport||1:24.930||+ 0.340|
|8.||Jean-Karl Vernay||Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport||1:24.964||+ 0.374|
|9.||Gabriele Tarquini||BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse||1:24.997||+ 0.407|
|10.||Nicky Catsburg||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team||1:25.079||+ 0.489|
|11.||Néstor Girolami||Münnich Motorsport||1:25.102||+ 0.512|
|12.||Gordon Shedden||Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport||1:25.292||+ 0.702|
|Q1 Qualifiers||Team / Entry||Time||Gap|
|13.||Ma Qing Hua||Team Mulsanne||1:25.234||+ 0.414|
|14.||Augusto Farfus||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team||1:25.270||+ 0.450|
|15.||Norbert Michelisz||BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse||1:25.328||+ 0.508|
|16.||Tom Coronel||Comtoyou Team DHL Cupra Racing||1:25.357||+ 0.537|
|17.||Andy Priaulx||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||1:25.397||+ 0.577|
|18.||Daniel Haglöf||PWR Racing||1:25.438||+ 0.618|
|19.||Rob Huff||SLR VW Motorsport||1:25.463||+ 0.643|
|20.||Kevin Ceccon||Team Mulsanne||1:25.475||+ 0.655|
|21.||Niels Langeveld||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||1:25.486||+ 0.666|
|22.||Attila Tassi||KCMG||1:25.588||+ 0.768|
|23.||Mehdi Bennani||SLR VW Motorsport||1:25.679||+ 0.859|
|24.||Johan Kristoffersson||SLR Volkswagen||1:25.693||+ 0.873|
|25.||Benjamin Leuchter||SLR Volkswagen||1:26.111||+ 1.291|
|26.||Aurélien Panis||Comtoyou Team DHL Cupra Racing||1:28.211||+ 3.391|
* Denotes gap to fastest Q2 time of 1:24.590 posted by Frédéric Vervisch.
** Denotes gap to fastest Q1 time of 1:24.820 posted by Thed Björk.
- The fastest five qualifiers and their respective teams are awarded championship points on a 5-4-3-2-1 sliding scale.
- Gordon Shedden – who provisionally qualified 12th-fastest – was deemed guilty of failing to slow for yellow flags during qualifying and will serve a five-place grid penalty for Race 2.
Images via FIA WTCR Media