Ruben Volt has claimed the first pole position for the new Honda Civic Type R FL5 in TCR Europe Qualifying at Monza, in a session that was affected by the red flag and a long delay in Q1. The Estonian youngster qualified ahead of title contender Kobe Pauwels’ Audi, with Nicola Baldan putting his Audi third on the grid.
The session started in dry conditions, with many drivers opting to come in after one lap in order to swap the front and rear tyres in a heat cycle, leaving Volt, Levente Losonczy and Pauwels to battle over the top spot. Then Viktor Davidovski was the first of those who took a heat cycle change to cross the line and went fastest with a time of 1:58.652 before the session was red-flagged after Losonczy lost the rear of his Elantra and crashed out at Ascari just after having set the best second sector time.
A long delay of over 30 minutes followed as the car was recovered and the barriers repaired, during which time the conditions changed with the arrival of rain.
At the restart, Davidovski and Volt remained in the pit lane, confident their times set earlier in dry conditions would get them to Q2, while there was a scramble among the rest as half of the drivers had not yet set a time. As it turned out, the track was drying fast and improvements were possible, with Davidovski and Volt soon joining the track.
Felice Jelmini was excelling in the changing conditions, three times setting the best lap of all in his Audi RS 3, ending the session on a 1:57.464. Losonczy lost his times after having caused the earlier red flag and so wouldn’t progress to Q2 even despite the damage to his car, while newcomer Ivan Peklin was the other driver not to make the cut for Q2.
With just ten minutes for Q2, it was a frantic final part of the session. Baldan and then Davidovski were both straight into the low 1:57s and went fastest of all. On their second runs, John Filippi and Pauwels both got within a tenth of a second of their teammate Davidovski’s time, before final improvements came with Baldan, Pauwels, and then Volt all surpassing the Macedonian. Volt was over half a second clear and the only driver to get into the 1:56s, securing pole position ahead of Pauwels and Baldan. Championship leader Tom Coronel could only manage the eighth fastest time, but that puts him third on the reversed grid for Race 2. Jelmini, who had topped Q1, failed to set a time in Q2, aborting during his first run and returning to the pit lane with a fuel pump issue.
Due the delays to today’s schedule caused by the red flag, Race 1 has been postponed to 08:30 CEST on Sunday morning, with live streaming on tcr-series.tv.
Monza – Qualifying
Picture: TCR Europe