SECOND QUALIFYING REPORT
FIA WTCR RACE OF HUNGARY
27-29 April 2018
WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO
Rounds 4-6 of 30
HOME HERO MICHELISZ CHARGES TO DHL POLE NUMBER TWO IN HUNGARY
*Fans thrilled as BRC Racing Team driver qualifies in first place
*Team-mate Tarquini joins Michelisz on front row for Race 3
*Huff lands Race 2 pole as wildcard Nagy stars
Norbert Michelisz delivered a second DHL Pole Position at WTCR Race of Hungary for his adoring home crowd in a thrilling WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO qualifying shootout at the Hungaroring this morning.
The BRC Racing Team driver inspired an eruption of noise from the main grandstand as Michelisz toppled team-mate Gabriele Tarquini from the DHL top spot, the pair ensuring a team lock-out on the front row for the 15-lap Race 3 weekend climax this afternoon.
Behind the Hyundai i30 N TCRs, ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport duo Esteban Guerrieri and Race 1 winner Yann Ehrlacher secured the second row ahead of impressive teenage Belgian Benjamin Lessennes, who progressed to Q3 for the first time but failed to set a time due to not leaving the pit lane on time.
“The car was just brilliant,” said a delighted Michelisz, who was also on the DHL Pole for Race 1 on Saturday. “From the first moment I felt confident to push. In Q2 I knew I couldn’t have gone any quicker, so in Q3 I just concentrated on doing a lap without any mistakes.”
Michelisz will be determined this time to convert his pole into a race victory, after losing out off the line yesterday and eventually finishing third. “My main focus now is that start,” he said.
How the battle for the DHL Pole Position unfolded?
With only the top 12 making it to Q2 from a bumper entry of 27 cars, there was always going to be some notable names who would miss the cut after the 20-minute Q1 session. Sure enough, Hungarian Zsolt Szabó couldn’t quite escape the drop zone, setting P13 in his MOL-supported Zengő Motorsport Cupra TCR.
Behind him, others to be disappointed included John Filippi, Jean-Karl Vernay, Fabrizio Giovanardi and Nathanaël Berthon. One surprise was Thed Björk in a lowly P20, the 2017 World Touring Car champion languishing down the times one place ahead of British Touring Car Championship convert Gordon Shedden.
Those who had reason for cheer included wildcard entry Attila Tassi in his KCMG Honda Civic Type R TCR, who sneaked in with the P12 time. Fellow home heroes Norbert and Dániel Nagy also both made the cut for the 10-minute Q2 session.
Michelisz topped the Q2 times with a 1m52.176s to head through to the one-at-a-time Q3 top five shootout. He would be joined by team-mate Tarquini, Guerrieri, Ehrlacher and Lessennes, who did a brilliant job to make the cut in his Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda Civic Type R TCR.
Yvan Muller, who had been fastest in Q1, missed out in sixth, just ahead of James Thompson and Mehdi Bennani. But there was late drama behind them as the name of the crucial P10 qualifier changed in the final seconds of the session.
Rob Huff appeared to have secured the place, which would have handed him the DHL Pole Position for the reverse-grid Race 2. But at the very end he was bumped down to P11, as local wildcard Dániel Nagy looked to have taken the crucial place in his M1RA Hyundai. However, it was confirmed the ninth best time set by Tassi was after the session timing had expired. That meant his time didn't count and the resulting reshuffle put Huff back to P10 with Dániel Nagy joining him on the Race 2 front row for his WTCR OSCARO debut.
Lessennes was the first to go in the Q3 shootout, but he and the team were caught out in this session by leaving the pitlane under a red light. He was black flagged without setting a time. Still, a fifth place start for Race 3 later in the day is a great achievement for the WTCR’s youngest driver.
Ehrlacher was next to go, setting a time of 1m53.366s during a scruffy lap that included a mistake in sector two. Sure enough, his time was beaten by team-mate Guerrieri, who was faster by 0.343s.
Now it was just the BRC Hyundais left to run. Tarquini was first up, the Italian veteran looking smooth during an untroubled lap. His time of 1m52.807s gave him an advantage of 0.216s over Guerrieri. But would crowd favourite Michelisz go faster?
The airhorns blared as Michelisz started his lap. He was down on Tarquini in sector 1, but up in sector 2… and crossed the line to a giant roar from the grandstand. His time of 1m52.365s was an impressive 0.442s quicker than his team-mate.
But Tarquini is well known for his blistering starts. All eyes will be on the blue Hyundais when Race 3 starts at 16h55. Before that, Race 2 of WTCR Race of Hungary is due to take place at 15h30 local time.