FIRST QUALIFYING REPORT: FIA WTCR RACE OF GERMANY
WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO, Rounds 7-9 of 30
BJÖRK BEATS MULLER IN THRILLING NORDSCHLEIFE WTCR POLE BATTLE
*Yvan Muller Racing Hyundai drivers separated by 0.079s
*Michelisz third as WTCR title leader Tarquini ends up seventh
*Home wildcard René Rast quick on WTCR debut
Thed Björk will start Race 1 at WTCR Race of Germany from the DHL Pole Position on Thursday evening after pipping team-mate Yvan Muller to the fastest time in qualifying as the sun shone on the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO at the Nürburgring Nordschleife.
Following morning rain, the Swede set his DHL pole time on his second run, dipping below the nine-minute mark with a fantastic lap of 8m58.700s. His YMR team-mate was hot on in heels in the other all-white Hyundai i30 N TCR, but Muller crossed the line just 0.079s behind – a scant margin around the daunting 25.378-kilometre circuit.
“I need to get the start going in Race 1, but the car feels good and it feels great to be back on top after struggling at the Hungaroring,” said a beaming Björk afterwards. “I’m really happy to be ahead of Yvan! And with 27 cars on the grid I’m so happy to be at the front.”
Behind the two YMR Hyundais, Norbert Michelisz will start Race 1 from third place in his BRC Racing Team Hyundai, beside fourth fastest Esteban Guerrieri, who jumped up the order on his third and final run in ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport’s Honda Civic Type R TCR.
Rob Huff was third behind the YMR Hyundais for much of the session, but the Sébastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR was bumped down to fifth in the final reckoning, the Briton complaining of traffic.
Wildcard entry René Rast, who had topped the two rain-affected free practice sessions in the morning, was sixth quickest but the German received a 10-place grid demotion for not slowing sufficiently under yellow flags. The Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team Audi RS 3 LMS had earlier been one of several cars to smack the barrier at Hatzenbach early in the long Nordschleife lap.
WTCR championship leader Gabriele Tarquini looked to be struggling to break into the top 10, but his final effort lifted him to seventh at the end of the 40-minute session, ahead of fellow ex-British Touring Car champion Gordon Shedden. The Scot, a Nordschleife rookie, did well to qualify eighth in his Audi after damaging the car and losing track time in Free Practice 1. However, he has also received a 10-place grid penalty for the same yellow flag infringement as Rast and will start P17.
Dutch hero Tom Coronel was ninth fastest, ahead of fellow Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda driver, 18-year-old Benjamin Lessennes, with ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport’s Yann Ehrlacher down in P11, one place ahead of Jean-Karl Vernay with Pepe Oriola, Mato Homola and Frédéric Vervisch next up. Lessennes will start three places further back, however, after he was adjudged to have impeded Huff when the Briton was on a fast lap.
Race 1 at WTCR Race of Germany takes place at 19h45 local time. Click here to find out how to watch live digital coverage.
More on OSCARO: wtcr.oscaro.com