Azcona is WTCR champion, as Berthon wins pole position

Azcona is WTCR champion, as Berthon wins pole position

26 November 2022

Mikel Azcona was crowned the last WTCR champion at the end of the Q2 part of the Qualifying session at Jeddah Corniche Circuit. At the wheel of his BRC Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N, Azcona qualified third for tomorrow’s Race 1, behind poleman Nathanaël Berthon (Comtoyou Racing, Audi RS 3 LMS) and his own teammate Norbert Michelisz. Néstor Girolami, the only driver who was still in contention, dropped out of the title fight as he qualified 12th; the Argentine was later excluded as there was not the minimum amount of fuel in the tank of his Honda Civic and so will start both races from 15th.
Q1 – Tom Coronel posted the first competitive lap of 2:16.764, with Franco Girolami second (1:17.042) and Berthon third (1:17.222). They swapped positions in the following lap, with Berthon second (1:16.779) and Girolami third (1:16.927), but the latter was demoted to fourth by Nicky Catsburg (1:16.841). The Dutchman then posted a new provisional fastest lap of 1:16.739.
Audi drivers improved halfway through the session with Girolami fastest in 1:16.519 ahead of Berhton (1:16.549), Gilles Magnus and Coronel (both 1:16.565); but Magnus went even faster in 1:16.514. Michelisz (1:16.645) and Azcona (1:16.662) were best of the rest in fifth and sixth, until Catsburg moved up into fourth (1:16.554). Azcona’s last gasp attempt was worth the fastest lap of 1:16.423, while Néstor Girolami was classified tenth.
Q2 – Azcona clocked 1:16.644 on his first lap, but the Audi quartet of Magnus (1:16.325), Berthon (1:16.430), Franco Girolami (1:16.445) and Coronel (1:16.625) moved ahead. Azcona struck back with a new fastest lap of 1:16.310, with Michelisz third in 1:16.334, but Berthon moved to the top with a lap of 1:16.199. Eventually, Berthon, Azcona, Magnus, Michelisz and Coronel advanced to Q3; with Néstor Girolami in 12th place, Azcona secured the Drivers’ title. Attila Tassi and Viktor Davidovski qualified 10th and 9th and will fill the front row for Race 2.
Q3 – Coronel was the first on track and clocked 1:16.564; Azcona followed and was 54 thousandths of a second faster in 1:16.512, but Michelisz was quicker than his teammate in 1:16.469. Magnus was next and posted the fourth fastest lap of 1:16.681, then came Berthon who won the pole position with a lap of 1:16.362.
Race 1 is scheduled to get underway tomorrow at 19:45 local time (17:45 CET).
Jeddah – Qualifying
1:16.362 Nathanaël Berthon (Comtoyou Racing, Audi RS 3 LMS)
1:16.466 Norbert Michelisz (BRC Squadra Corse, Hyundai Elantra N)
1:16.512 Mikel Azcona (BRC Squadra Corse, Hyundai Elantra N)
Championship points
1. M. Azcona 305 pts; 2. N. Girolami 237; 3. N. Berthon 210

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