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Stefano Comini secures first Volkswagen pole in Sochi

Leopard Racing’s Stefano Comini took his second TCR International Series career pole position at the Sochi Autodrom, posting the best time with a 2:21.120 ahead of championship leader, Craft Bamboo Lukoil’s Pepe Oriola.

Comini also secured the first pole position for the Volkswagen brand in the process, and took control  in the second part of qualifying, after another initial strong showing from the Spanish points leader.

Oriola, who was fastest in the earlier free practice sessions, had his best efforts in the second qualifying session disallowed after exceeding track limits, but settled for second behind the Swiss pole setter.

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Despite illness continuing to cause him discomfort over the weekend, Jean-Karl Vernay made it two Volkswagen Golf GTi TCRs in the top three, as the Frenchman was just under three tenths of a second slower than the defending champion.

West Coast Racing’s Gianni Morbidelli lines up fourth alongside Vernay in his Honda Civic, with Mulsanne Racing’s Petr Fulín rounding out the top five with the best result for the new Alfa Giulietta TCR so far.

Dušan Borkovic was the best of the B3 Racing Seat Léon TCR drivers, as the Serbian was sixth fastest, 0.868 seconds behind the blistering pace set by Comini in the latter stages of Q2.

Mikhail Grachev was the best of the home contingent, who appeared to struggle, as he ended up eighth, ahead of the remainder of the B3 Racing trio, Mat’o Homola and Atilla Tassi, who completed the top ten

Tassi and Homola will line up on the front row for the reverse grid race, whilst Sergey Afanasyev narrowly missed out on the top ten by just 0.089 seconds, putting him in 11th.

Liquid Moly Team Engstler’s Davit Kajaja and Vladimir Sheshenin were way down the order after Q1, along with Michela Cerruti being an early casualty, as the Italian was suffering with understeer in her Alfa Romeo.

Q2 times

1 1 Stefano COMINI Leopard Racing Volkswagen Golf Gti TCR 4 2:21.130 0.000
2 74 Pepe ORIOLA Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL SEAT León TCR 3 2:21.271 0.141
3 2 Jean-Karl VERNAY Leopard Racing Volkswagen Golf Gti TCR 3 2:21.434 0.304
4 10 Gianni MORBIDELLI West Coast Racing Honda Civic TCR 3 2:21.699 0.569
5 22 Petr FULÍN Mulsanne Racing Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR 3 2:21.954 0.824
6 62 Dušan BORKOVIĆ B3 Racing Team Hungary SEAT León TCR 3 2:21.998 0.868
7 54 James NASH Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL SEAT León TCR 4 2:22.011 0.881
8 8 Mikhail GRACHEV West Coast Racing Honda Civic TCR 3 2:22.171 1.041
9 70 Mat’o HOMOLA B3 Racing Team Hungary SEAT León TCR 3 2:22.247 1.117
10 9 Attila TASSI B3 Racing Team Hungary SEAT León TCR 3 2:22.386 1.256
11 77 Sergey AFANASYEV Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL SEAT León TCR 3 2:22.475 1.345
12 7 Davit KAJAIA Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf Gti TCR 3 2:23.089 1.959
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