Local know-how helped Benjamin Leuchter claim his first pole position for the third and final FIA WTCR race at the Nürburgring Nordschleife, with the German driver leading Sébastien Loeb Racing teammate Rob Huff to an all VW Golf front row for the first time this season.
Leuchter impressed on a steadily drying track and timed his final lap to perfection to edge Huff to top spot by 1.4 seconds, while Race 1 pole-winner and current championship leader Esteban Guerrieri backed up his qualifying form by securing third on the grid in his Münnich Motorsport Honda.
“I saw very early that the track was drying up, I informed my team to get the slicks on the side and the team did a fantastic job and at the right moment they gave me the tyres,” said Leuchter. “I just went out and smashed the time. This is for the guys because they’ve worked so hard since Marrakech, we were quite confident at Zandvoort coming to our home race here at the Nürburgring and I really appreciate it to stand on the pole position.”
With the sun finally making an appearance in the late afternoon session, the early pace was set by Cyan Performance’s Yann Ehrlacher in his Lynk & Co before Leuchter moved into provisional pole with a time of 10:18.944, with Huff lapping 1.8 seconds adrift.
Nicky Catsburg moved his BRC Racing Hyundai into third overall with PWR Racing’s Daniel Haglöf’s Cupra TCR slotting into fourth ahead of Catsburg’s teammate Augusto Farfus.
Catsburg’s hopes of improving his lap time on his next run came undone at Döttinger Höhe, when he slid wide just before the long straight and hit the barriers. The impact ripped the left front wheel from the Dutchman’s car and as the track continued to dry he was one of five drivers who failed to make the 105% qualifying cut.
The lap times continued to fall on the following runs, with Leuchter’s second run seeing him remain at the top of the timesheets, although this time he was just 0.083 seconds quicker than Huff.
The duo was then displaced by another SLR Volkswagen, with former rallycross ace Johan Kristoffersson become the first driver in the session to break the 10-minute barrier. The Swede’s time of 9:57.497 was then usurped by wildcard entrant Antti Buri; the Finnish driver dramatically hustling his Audi around the circuit to lap two-tenths quicker.
The drivers’ final runs threatened to be curtailed by a crash for Haglöf at Tiergarten, which triggered a ‘Code 60’ through that section of the lap. Despite everyone having to slow to 60km/h through that section, Leuchter still managed to better his lap time to claim pole position from Huff and Guerrieri.
BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corsa duo Norbert Michelisz and Gabriele Tarquini claimed fourth and fifth in the final classification, while Mehdi Bennani ensured three SLR Volkswagens qualified in the top-six.
Frédéric Vervisch was another driver who backed up his Race 1 qualifying pace, with the Belgian claiming seventh-fastest in his Comtoyou Team Audi RS3 LMS. KCMG Honda driver Attila Tassi’s celebrations at qualifying a season’s best eighth-fastest were soon dampened amid a 10-place grid penalty for speeding through the ‘Code 60’ zone.
Completing the top ten on the grid were the impressive Buri and the fourth SLR Volkswagen of Kristoffersson, who will start from the reversed-grid pole position for Race 2.
|2019 FIA WTCR Race of Germany – Race 2 & 3 Qualifying Results|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap|
|1.||Benjamin Leuchter||SLR Volkswagen||9:51.327|
|2.||Rob Huff||SLR VW Motorsport||9:52.809||+ 1.482|
|3.||Esteban Guerrieri||Münnich Motorsport||9:53.224||+ 1.897|
|4.||Norbert Michelisz||BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse||9:55.425||+ 4.098|
|5.||Gabriele Tarquini||BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse||9:55.574||+ 4.247|
|6.||Mehdi Bennani||SLR VW Motorsport||9:57.024||+ 5.697|
|7.||Frédéric Vervisch||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||9:57.172||+ 5.845|
|8.||Attila Tassi||KCMG||9:57.232||+ 5.905|
|9.||Antti Buri (WC)||AS Motorsport||9:57.291||+ 5.964|
|10.||Johan Kristoffersson||SLR Volkswagen||9:57.497||+ 6.170|
|11.||Augusto Farfus||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team||9:58.444||+ 7.117|
|12.||Aurélien Panis||Comtoyou Team DHL Cupra Racing||9:59.414||+ 8.087|
|13.||Tom Coronel||Comtoyou Team DHL Cupra Racing||10:00.776||+ 9.449|
|14.||Tiago Monteiro||KCMG||10:01.827||+ 10.500|
|15.||Jean-Karl Vernay||Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport||10:02.541||+ 11.214|
|16.||Gordon Shedden||Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport||10:02.557||+ 11.230|
|17.||Yann Ehrlacher||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||10:04.554||+ 13.227|
|18.||Andy Priaulx||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||10:04.746||+ 13.419|
|19.||Thed Björk||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||10:05.515||+ 14.188|
|20.||Yvan Muller||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||10:07.248||+ 15.921|
|21.||Kevin Ceccon||Team Mulsanne||10:08.998||+ 17.671|
|22.||Daniel Haglöf||PWR Racing||10:18.123||+ 26.796|
|Outside 105%||Team / Entry||Time||Gap|
|DNQ.||Nicky Catsburg||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team||10:21.225||+ 29.898|
|DNQ.||Néstor Girolami||Münnich Motorsport||10:25.268||+ 33.941|
|DNQ.||Mikel Azcona||PWR Racing||10:26.565||+ 35.238|
|DNQ.||Niels Langeveld||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||10:27.096||+ 35.769|
|DNQ.||Ma Qing Hua||Team Mulsanne||10:39.128||+ 47.801|
- The fastest five qualifiers and their respective teams are awarded championship points on a 5-4-3-2-1 sliding scale.
- Attila Tassi will serve a 10-place grid penalty for failing to respect the ‘Code 60’ warning.
Images via FIA WTCR Media
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