On his last appearance in the TCR International Series during the current season, Rob Huff claimed his first pole position at the wheel of the Leopard Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI. His teammate Jean-Karl Vernay provided the icing on the cake by qualifying second, locking the front row of the grid of Race 1 for the team and Volkswagen. The four points awarded to the second best qualifier also meant that Vernay reclaimed the leadership in the championship standings with a two-point margin ahead of Attila Tassi.
Pepe Oriola put in a great effort and managed to qualify third in his Lukoil Craft-Bamboo SEAT León.
In an unusual situation, the two fastest drivers in Qualifying will not be at the front of the grid. In fact, Alain Menu and Gabriele Tarquini set the fastest laps in Q1 at a pace that nobody was able to match, but they were not even admitted to Q2 because their Hyundai i30 N cars have been accepted with a temporary homologation form, meaning that they are not eligible to score points. They will start both races from 13th and 14th and promise to fight for recovering.
Among those who were disappointed by the Qualifying results were Stefano Comini and Mat’o Homola. The reigning champion couldn’t achieve any better than a 16th position that greatly jeopardized his hopes to win a third consecutive title. As for Homola, he couldn’t even try, as an engine failure sidelined him in Practice 2 and Qualifying.
Frederic Vervisch qualified tenth and won pole position on the reverse grid for Race 2 alongside Davit Kajaia.
The first race will start tomorrow at 14:30 local time (live streaming at www.tcr-series.com and www.tcr-series.tv).
Qualifying 1: Menu and Tarquini are fastest
The pairing of Hyundai i30 N cars of Menu and Tarquini set the fastest laps in the first part of the session, the only ones to go under the 1:33 mark. After posting a provisional fastest lap of 1:33.392, Menu improved to 1:32.811 that nobody was able to beat. Tarquini tried twice and was clocked at 1:32.984 and then 1:32.935 to settle in second position.
With the Hyundai cars not eligible to qualify for Q2, the Volkswagen drivers were fighting to be fastest of the rest of the field. Eventually it was Gianni Morbidelli who set the third best lap (1:33.279) ahead of Vernay (1:33.476) and Huff (1:33.503).
After struggling in the Practice, Tassi was able to complete his last lap in 1:33.786 that placed him sixth overall, but fourth among those admitted to Q2.
The following drivers went through to Q2: Morbidelli, Vernay, Huff, Tassi, Colciago, Lloyd, Nash, Oriola, Kajaia, Dupont, Panis, Vervisch.
Among those who failed to make the cut were Borković and Comini.
Qualifying 2: Huff and Vernay secure front row
Leopard Racing’s Huff and Vernay had a thrilling fight for securing pole position. The Frenchman topped the time list with a provisional fastest lap of 1:33.341 but was pipped by his English teammate who improved to 1:33.173 under the chequered flag.
Also on his last lap, Oriola was able to climb to third with a lap of 1:33.486, demoting Morbidelli to fourth (1:33.804). Daniel Lloyd claimed the last qualifying point by posting the fifth fastest lap (1:33.817).