Esteban Guerrieri will start the opening FIA WTCR race at the Nürburgring Nordschleife from pole position, with an early banker lap moving the Münnich Motorsport Honda driver to the top of the timesheets before the weather deteriorated.
The Argentine was one of the first drivers to attempt a flying lap around a rain-affected track. His opening effort of 10:30.955 looked like it would be beaten over the course of the session, but worsening track conditions and a lengthy yellow flag triggered by a crash by Mikel Azcona ensured the championship leader would claim his second pole of the season with a margin of over six seconds to BRC Racing Hyundai’s Norbert Michelisz.
“I listened to Mariela my wife,” Guerrieri explained after clinching pole. “She said before I went out, ‘Listen, put a good banker lap in’. I listened to her and here I am.
“But it was the kind of intense moment you have here at the Nordschleife. We went into qualifying not knowing what to expect. I just put the lap all with the feeling, not thinking too much but understanding where the lines were right. The lap was really good and it was luck there were yellow flags and more rain afterwards. This luck can sometimes play in your favour, but we needed to do a good lap and we did a really nice one, so thank you to the team, the Honda worked really good. I am very happy.”
Guerrieri’s provisional pole became a certainty when WTCR rookie Mikel Azcona crashed his PWR Racing Cupra into the barriers near the Bergwerk. The Spanish youngster had looked untidy through the Grand Prix loop of the circuit as he started his flying lap and it seemed only a matter of time before he lost the battle between ambition and adhesion.
With his car in a dangerous position and needing to be towed away, track officials activated a ‘Code 60’ – an endurance racing rule requiring drivers passing through the yellow-flag zone to reduce their speed to less than 60km/h. It took until the end of the session before his car could be cleared, ruining any other driver’s chance of trying to topple Guerrieri’s lap time thanks to having to slow to a crawl past his wrecked car.
The second row of the starting grid was claimed by Guerrieri’s teammate and closest championship rival Néstor Girolami and Comtoyou Team Audi Sport driver Frédéric Vervisch, who recovered from an early spin at Turn 1 and had a near-miss avoiding Kevin Ceccon’s stranded Mulsanne Alfa Romeo.
The third row of the grid was an all Lynk & Co affair, with Cyan Racing teammates Thed Björk and Yvan Muller claiming fifth and sixth respectively.
WRT’s Jean-Karl Vernay qualified seventh-fastest, however the Frenchman was one of two drivers – Lynk & Co’s Andy Priaulx being the other – who was caught speeding through the ‘Code 60’ zone and so will take a 10-place grid penalty. This promotes Priaulx’s teammate Yann Ehrlacher to seventh on the grid ahead of the SLR-run Volkswagen Golf GTIs of Rob Huff and local driver Benjamin Leuchter.
Race 1 will run on Friday at 17:30 local time (GMT +2). Qualifying for Races 2 and 3 takes place today at 19:30.
|2019 FIA WTCR Race of Germany – Race 1 Qualifying Results|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap|
|1.||Esteban Guerrieri||Münnich Motorsport||10:30.955|
|2.||Norbert Michelisz||BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse||10:36.987||+ 6.032|
|3.||Néstor Girolami||Münnich Motorsport||10:37.143||+ 6.188|
|4.||Frédéric Vervisch||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||10:38.360||+ 7.405|
|5.||Thed Björk||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||10:39.087||+ 8.132|
|6.||Yvan Muller||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||10:39.356||+ 8.401|
|7.||Jean-Karl Vernay||Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport||10:39.878||+ 8.923|
|8.||Yann Ehrlacher||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||10:40.372||+ 9.417|
|9.||Rob Huff||SLR VW Motorsport||10:40.379||+ 9.424|
|10.||Benjamin Leuchter||SLR Volkswagen||10:40.925||+ 9.970|
|11.||Gabriele Tarquini||BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse||10:41.131||+ 10.176|
|12.||Johan Kristoffersson||SLR Volkswagen||10:42.267||+ 11.312|
|13.||Nicky Catsburg||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team||10:42.343||+ 11.388|
|14.||Antti Buri (WC)||AS Motorsport||10:42.505||+ 11.550|
|15.||Mehdi Bennani||SLR VW Motorsport||10:43.086||+ 12.131|
|16.||Augusto Farfus||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team||10:43.183||+ 12.228|
|17.||Andy Priaulx||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||10:43.643||+ 12.688|
|18.||Daniel Haglöf||PWR Racing||10:43.981||+ 13.026|
|19.||Tom Coronel||Comtoyou Team DHL Cupra Racing||10:46.481||+ 15.526|
|20.||Tiago Monteiro||KCMG||10:51.019||+ 20.064|
|21.||Attila Tassi||KCMG||10:51.305||+ 20.350|
|22.||Gordon Shedden||Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport||10:52.264||+ 21.309|
|23.||Aurélien Panis||Comtoyou Team DHL Cupra Racing||10:58.219||+ 27.264|
|24.||Kevin Ceccon||Team Mulsanne||11:02.184||+ 31.229|
|Outside 105%||Team / Entry||Time||Gap|
|DNQ.||Ma Qing Hua||Team Mulsanne||11:27.577||+ 56.622|
|DNQ.||Mikel Azcona||PWR Racing||no time|
|DNQ.||Niels Langeveld||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||no time|
- The fastest five qualifiers and their respective teams are awarded championship points on a 5-4-3-2-1 sliding scale.
- Jean-Karl Vernay will serve a 10-place grid penalty for failing to respect the ‘Code 60’ warning.
- Andy Priaulx will serve a 10-place grid penalty for failing to respect the ‘Code 60’ warning.
Images via FIA WTCR Media
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