Norbert Michelisz will start the opening World Touring Car Cup race at this weekend’s Portuguese round from pole position after breaking the Circuito Internacional de Vila Real lap record in qualifying.
The BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse driver was the early pace-setter in Saturday morning’s 40-minute qualifying session before being demoted from top spot by SLR VW Motorsport’s Rob Huff. But the Hungarian responded, posting a 1:59.498 around the 4.785-kilometre street circuit to snatch back pole position.
“That was probably the lap of my life,” said Michelisz, who lies second in the WTCR Drivers’ Championship standings at the season’s halfway point. “There was no margin for me to go any faster. I’m happy with the progress from yesterday’s practice and this one goes to the team.”
There was added joy for the four-car BRC Racing Hyundai stable, with Augusto Farfus securing a season’s best front-row start alongside Michelisz.
Cyan Performance Lynk & Co’s Yann Ehrlacher was third fastest, with Huff ultimately bumped down to fourth on the grid.
Ma Qing Hua qualified fifth-fastest in his Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR. The Chinese driver had a disrupted qualifying session after being forced to pit with a puncture, and later reported himself as sick over the pit-to-car radio at the end of the session.
Farfus’ teammate Nicky Catsburg ensured three of the field’s four Hyundais qualified inside the top six, despite losing his fastest time after hitting an anti-corner-cutting tyre stack. Reigning champion Gabriele Tarquini qualified P11 after suffering an identical fate.
Seventh-fastest was Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing’s Aurélien Panis ahead of Johan Kristoffersson (SLR Volkswagen) and Thed Björk (Cyan Racing Lynk & Co).
Kevin Ceccon (Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo) completed the top-ten, however the Italian will serve a 10-place grid penalty for an unscheduled engine change.
The Audi and Honda runners struggled under their increased compensation weight. WRT’s Jean-Karl Vernay was the best-placed of the RS3 LMS runners in P12, while championship leader Esteban Guerrieri (Münnich Motorsport) was the slowest of the four Civic runners in P19 after his session was impacted by a sensor issue.
|2019 FIA WTCR Race of Portugal – Race 1 Qualifying Results|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap|
|1.||Norbert Michelisz||BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse||1:59.498|
|2.||Augusto Farfus||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team||1:59.797||+ 0.299|
|3.||Yann Ehrlacher||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||1:59.905||+ 0.407|
|4.||Rob Huff||SLR VW Motorsport||2:00.005||+ 0.507|
|5.||Ma Qing Hua||Team Mulsanne||2:00.075||+ 0.577|
|6.||Nicky Catsburg||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team||2:00.199||+ 0.701|
|7.||Aurélien Panis||Comtoyou Team DHL Cupra Racing||2:00.244||+ 0.746|
|8.||Johan Kristoffersson||SLR Volkswagen||2:00.260||+ 0.762|
|9.||Thed Björk||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||2:00.307||+ 0.809|
|10.||Gabriele Tarquini||BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse||2:00.330||+ 0.832|
|11.||Jean-Karl Vernay||Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport||2:00.392||+ 0.894|
|12.||Yvan Muller||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||2:00.426||+ 0.928|
|13.||Néstor Girolami||Münnich Motorsport||2:00.567||+ 1.069|
|14.||Tiago Monteiro||KCMG||2:00.749||+ 1.251|
|15.||Andy Priaulx||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||2:00.840||+ 1.342|
|16.||Attila Tassi||KCMG||2:00.879||+ 1.381|
|17.||Esteban Guerrieri||Münnich Motorsport||2:01.130||+ 1.632|
|18.||Mikel Azcona||PWR Racing||2:01.163||+ 1.665|
|19.||Frédéric Vervisch||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||2:01.245||+ 1.747|
|20.||Mehdi Bennani||SLR VW Motorsport||2:01.270||+ 1.772|
|21.||Kevin Ceccon||Team Mulsanne||2:01.313||+ 1.815|
|22.||Niels Langeveld||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||2:01.642||+ 2.144|
|23.||Benjamin Leuchter||SLR Volkswagen||2:02.356||+ 2.858|
|24.||Gordon Shedden||Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport||2:02.466||+ 2.968|
|25.||Tom Coronel||Comtoyou Team DHL Cupra Racing||2:02.742||+ 3.244|
|Outside 105%||Team / Entry||Time||Gap|
|EXC.||Daniel Haglöf||PWR Racing||excluded|
- The fastest five qualifiers and their respective teams are awarded championship points on a 5-4-3-2-1 sliding scale.
- Kevin Ceccon, who provisionally qualified 10th-fastest, had his fastest lap time deleted. Additionally, he will serve a 10-place grid penalty for incurring his third formal reprimand of the season.
- Attila Tassi, who provisionally qualified 17th-fastest, will start Race 1 from the back of the grid for an unscheduled engine change.
- Benjamin Leuchter, who provisionally qualified 18th-fastest, had his fastest lap time deleted.
- Frédéric Vervisch, who provisionally qualified 21st-fastest, will start Race 1 from the back of the grid for an unscheduled engine change.
- Mehdi Bennani, who provisionally qualified 22nd-fastest, will start Race 1 from the back of the grid for an unscheduled engine change.
- Daniel Haglöf, who provisionally qualified 23rd-fastest, had all of his lap times deleted.
Images via FIA WTCR Media