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Kevin Gleason springs qualifying surprise in Sepang

Kevin Gleason pipped Andrea Belicchi by the finest of margins to win pole position for West Coast Racing and Honda ahead of the inaugural TCR International Series race in Sepang.

After both practise sessions were dominated by the SEAT León Racer, with no other car able to break through the Spanish marque’s top-six strangle-hold, there looked like being only one outcome in the two-part qualifying session, but Gleason had other ideas.

The 27 year old American set a blistering lap of 2:19:717 which Target Competion team-mates Belicchi and Stefano Comini simply could not match, with Liqui-Moly Team Engstler owner-driver Franz Engstler qualifying a strong fourth in the Audi.

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Jordi Gene picked up tenth and reversed grid pole for Race Two.

“I feel wonderful!” said Gleason. “The car is brand new, but the team did a great job and they have worked so hard together with JAS in order to get everything ready and running. I had no expectations before the qualifying, I just wanted to do the best I could. I struggled with understeer in Q1, but we managed to make some adjustments in the five-minute break and it worked. After that the car felt great!”

Electrical and cooling problems for the brand-new Proteam Racing Ford Focus ST and both Campos Racing Opel Astras of Igor Skuz and Jordi Oriola means just 14 starters for the inaugural race in Sepang’s swealtering heat.

Top ten times

1 24 Kevin GLEASON West Coast Racing Honda Civic TCR 4 2:19.717
2 33 Andrea BELICCHI Target Competition SEAT León Racer 4 2:19.738 0.021
3 25 Stefano COMINI Target Competition SEAT León Racer 6 2:19.878 0.161
4 6 Franz ENGSTLER Liqui Moly Team Engstler Audi Sport TT Cup 3 2:19.980 0.263
5 23 René MÜNNICH West Coast Racing Honda Civic TCR 5 2:20.004 0.287
6 10 Gianni MORBIDELLI West Coast Racing Honda Civic TCR 4 2:20.132 0.415
7 77 Sergey AFANASYEV Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL SEAT León Racer 4 2:20.133 0.416
8 74 Pepe ORIOLA Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL SEAT León Racer 4 2:20.429 0.712
9 55 Ferenc FICZA Zengő Motorsport SEAT León Racer 3 2:20.502 0.785
10 88 Jordi GENÉ Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL SEAT León Racer 5 2:20.530 0.813

Complete session results

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