Santiago Urrutia claimed pole position for the first of the two WTCR races at Vila Real, beating his teammate Yann Ehrlacher and Néstor Girolami.
A very entertaining Q1 saw Ehrlacher, Urrutia and Rob Huff taking turns on top of the timesheet for most of the 30 minutes. Ehrlacher set the first mark of 2:00.695 that Urrutia bettered to 2:00.385; then Huff went faster at 2:00.165, only to be demoted by Ehrlacher’s 2:00.155. However, Attila Tassi surprised everyone with a lap of 2:00.146; but that was not good enough to keep the first place, because Azcona (2:00.063) and Yvan Muller (2:00.108) went P1 and P2. Behind the top three Ehrlacher, Norbert Michelisz, Huff, Mehdi Bennani, Urrutia, Gilles Magnus, Girolami, Ma Qing Hua and Thed Björk made it to Q2. Despite his efforts in front of his home crowd, Tiago Monteiro was the first to stay off in 13th position, only 42 thousandths behind Björk.
Q2 began with Urrutia (1:59.928), Ehrlacher (1:59.966) and Michelisz (1:59.995) smashing the two-minute barrier. Ehrlacher was able to improve further and jumped to the top with a lap of 1:59.543 just before the chequered flag was waved; Ma (1:59.799) and Girolami (1:59.846) won a place in Q3. They set the third and fourth fastest laps behind Ehrlacher and Urrutia who had also improved to 1:59.555, demoting Michelisz to fifth and kicking Huff and Bennani out. Muller and Tassi qualified 10th and 9th, meaning that they will share the front row for Race 2.
Michelisz, the first out in Q3, was not able to repeat his Q2 time, clocking 2:00.101; Girolami followed and nearly matched his previous lap with 1:59.879. The trio of Lynk & Co cars closed the session; after being very fast in the first two sectors, Ma made a slight mistake in the third and was one thousandth of a second slower than Girolami. His teammates were more effective, and Urrutia made the difference in the third sector, snatching the pole with a lap of 1:59.626 ahead of Ehrlacher’s 1:59.675.
Race 1 is scheduled to get underway tomorrow at 13:10 local time (14:10 CEST).
Vila Real – Qualifying
1:59.626 Santiago Urrutia (Cyan Performance, Lynk & Co 03)
1:59.675 Yann Ehrlacher (Cyan Racing, Lynk & Co 03)
1:59.879 Néstor Girolami (Münnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R)
1. M. Azcona 129 pts; 2. Y. Ehrlacher 102; 3. S. Urrutia 101
Picture: FIA WTCR/DPPI