Gianni Morbidelli scored a home pole position in qualifying for the TCR International Series at Imola, with the WestCoast Racing driver just 0.057 seconds ahead of Craft-Bamboo Racing title rival Pepe Oriola.
Morbidelli, who had earlier been the fastest out of the morning’s two practice sessions, continued his dominance at his home race, going fastest in Q1 before finding an extra half a tenth to set the pace in Q2.
That gave the Italian a 0.057 second advantage over the SEAT of Pepe Oriola, who was second despite carrying 20 kg more success ballast than Morbidelli, who is free of any success-based weight this weekend.
Liqui Moly Team Engstler’s Davit Kajaia was an impressive third fastest in his Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR, ahead of fellow Golf racer Stefano Comini in fourth.
Mikhail Grachev, this weekend at the wheel of a WestCoast Honda, was fifth, with the Russian clearly enjoying his last-minute switch to the Civic.
The leading B3 Racing Team driver was Slovakian Mat’o Homola in sixth, who beat both of his team-mates as the Hungarian outfit got all three of its cars into Q2 for the second meeting in succession.
The third WestCoast Honda of Alain Menu was seventh, although the Swiss racer was involved in a controversial incident in Q1 with Jean-Karl Vernay. Menu appeared to be going slowly, but remained on the racing line, with Vernay approaching rapidly and cutting the Turn 12 chicane.
The duo made contact, which left Menu’s car undamaged but broke the front-left suspension of Vernay’s Volkswagen, leaving him unable to improve his time and ending the session down in 14th position.
Sergey Afanasyev put his Craft-Bamboo SEAT in eighth, with the Russian driver having limited runs in Q2 due to running wide through the gravel on his second lap.
James Nash was behind his team-mate in ninth, although the Brit later had his best lap time deleted for exceeding track limits putting him down in 11th, with Liqui Moly Team Engstler’s Jordi Gené in ninth.
B3 Racing’s Attila Tassi originally just missed out on the reverse pole, but with Nash’s loss of his best time it promoted him to tenth and a first front-row start. His team-mate Dušan Borković was a serial offender for exceeding the track limits and had all of his Q2 times deleted, leaving him in 12th. The Serbian racer had earlier been quick enough for fifth.
Target Competition’s Jordi Oriola also fell afoul of the track limits in Q1, with his best lap time being deleted and leaving him missing the cut to make it into Q2.
The all-female team of Carlotta Fedeli and Alessandra Neri propped up the timesheets, with the B.D. Racing duo over four seconds off the pace in 15th and 16th respectively.
Race one takes place at 14:15 CEST (13:15 BST), with race two following at 15:30 CEST (14:30 BST). Both races will be streamed live online on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4miFzss3uzQ.
|1||10||Gianni MORBIDELLI||West Coast Racing||Honda Civic TCR||4||1:53.228||0.000|
|2||74||Pepe ORIOLA||Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL||SEAT León TCR||4||1:53.285||0.057|
|3||7||Davit KAJAIA||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||Volkswagen Golf Gti TCR||5||1:53.569||0.341|
|4||1||Stefano COMINI||Leopard Racing||Volkswagen Golf Gti TCR||5||1:53.738||0.510|
|5||8||Mikhail GRACHEV||West Coast Racing||Honda Civic TCR||5||1:53.855||0.627|
|6||70||Mat’o HOMOLA||B3 Racing Team Hungary||SEAT León TCR||3||1:53.856||0.628|
|7||40||Alain MENU||West Coast Racing||Honda Civic TCR||5||1:53.857||0.629|
|8||77||Sergey AFANASYEV||Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL||SEAT León TCR||4||1:54.004||0.776|
|9||52||Jordi GENÉ||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||Volkswagen Golf Gti TCR||5||1:54.243||1.015|
|10||9||Attila TASSI||B3 Racing Team Hungary||SEAT León TCR||3||1:54.258||1.030|
|11||54||James NASH||Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL||SEAT León TCR||4||1:54.436||1.208|
|12||62||Dušan BORKOVIĆ||B3 Racing Team Hungary||SEAT León TCR||4||No time||N/A|