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Gianni Morbidelli scores pole position in Thailand

West Coast Racing’s Gianni Morbidelli took his fourth pole position of the TCR International Series season in Thailand, beating Craft-Bamboo Racing title rival Pepe Oriola by 0.178 seconds.

Morbidelli, who had earlier topped the Q1 session, rose to the top of the times half-way through Q2 and was thereafter unbeaten, with his time of 1:43.423 proving to be too quick for his rivals.

Oriola was initially third fastest in Q2 behind Morbidelli’s West Coast Racing team-mate Kevin Gleason, but a late improvement elevated him to second, leaving Gleason in third.

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Sergey Afanasyev continued his consistent form for Craft-Bamboo Lukoil by qualifying in fourth, ahead of team-mate Jordi Gené in fifth.

Liqui Moly Team Engstler’s Mikhail Grachev put in his best performance of the weekend so far to qualify his Volkswagen Golf in sixth, having been as high as third early on in the session, ahead of team-mate Lorenzo Veglia in seventh.

Target Competition duo Loris Hezemans and Stefano Comini were eighth and ninth fastest respectively, with the former having had his best lap time deleted before going on to improve anyway.

Campos Racing’s Hugo Valente completed the top ten and took pole position for race two as a result, with championship leader Comini crucially being alongside as a result.

René Münnich and local racer Munkong Sathienthirakul just missed out on the reverse grid, qualifying in 11th and 12th positions respectively. Asia Racing Team’s Sathienthirakul was thus the quickest of the TCR Asia Series field.

Liqui Moly Team Engstler’s Tomas Engström just missed the cut for Q2 and ended up in 13th position, and was clearly disappointed at the end of the session.

“I’m extremely disappointed – I was expecting to be in the top 12,” said Engström. “There were a lot of incidents in the session which did not play in to my favour. I love this circuit – the track is very nice and fun to drive. Obviously we are not quick enough, so I hope for better luck tomorrow.”

Local Thai driver Tin Sritrai was 14th quickest in his Asia Racing Team SEAT, ending up second fastest of the TCR Asia Series runners.

Top Run Motorsport’s Alain Menu spent much of the session in the pitlane, before hitting the circuit in the closing minutes to post the 15th fastest time – with the Swiss clearly disappointed with missing out on entry into Q2.

The session was briefly red flagged after five minutes, when Roadstar Racing’s Filipe Clemente de Souza locked up at turn three and got stuck in the gravel, just moments after Sritrai had almost run off the circuit at the same location.

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