YMR’s Thed Björk headed a Hyundai 1-2-3 in qualifying for the first FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) race on the streets of Marrakech, as second fastest Norbert Michelisz suffered from an engine failure.
Hyundai i30 N TCR cars were on top of the times throughout the session, with BRC Racing’s Gabriele Tarquini initially setting the pace.
Hungarian star Michelisz then went to the top of the times after 12 minutes, before his engine let go on his i30, dropping oil around Turn 3 and causing a ten-minute red flag stoppage.
The engine failure for Michelisz, which saw flames come out the back of his car, will mean that he will not get to start from the front row of the grid, as his BRC Racing Team work to change the engine on his car.
When the session resumed, it took Björk almost 20 minutes before he was able to beat Michelisz’s time, with a lap that was 0.136 seconds quicker.
“It feels fantastic to start in this way, being the champion from last year, it feels good,” said Björk. “I just enjoy coming out driving again, I love street circuits and it’s going to be tight, but it feels good.
“I have to say that I have a good car from Gabriele – he tested this and it’s his baby as he says – and I haven’t really done anything with it, I’m just driving it and it works so big thanks to Gabriele for that. Maybe he doesn’t like me saying that, but we’ll see.”
Tarquini himself ended the session in third, ahead of the leading Audi of Jean-Karl Vernay in fourth.
Rob Huff was the leading Brit in his Sébastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen in fifth, ahead of Campos Racing’s John Filippi in sixth, with the Corsican putting in a fast lap inside the last couple of minutes.
The leading Honda was that of Argentine Esteban Guerrieri in seventh, ahead of three-time BTCC champion Gordon Shedden in eighth, who failed to let his lack of practice running hold him back.
The top ten was completed by the second Volkswagen of local hero Mehdi Bennani and YMR’s Yvan Muller, who was just under a second slower than his team-mate and the last of the Hyundai runners.
Münnich Motorsport Honda man James Thompson just missed out on the top ten and was 11th, ahead of the leading Peugeot of DG Sport’s Aurélien Comte in 12th.
Both of the Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo drivers struggled, with Fabrizio Giovanardi down in 21st and team-mate Gianni Morbidelli propping up the timesheets in 25th.
Benjamin Lessennes, who was 24th in his Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda, made repeated mistakes during the session, forcing him down the escape road at Turn 7.
The first race of the WTCR season takes place at 17:00 BST (18:00 CEST) and will be broadcast live on Facebook.
|1||11||Thed BJÖRK||YMR||Hyundai i30 N TCR||17||1:24.698||0.000|
|2||5||Norbert MICHELISZ||BRC Racing Team||Hyundai i30 N TCR||9||1:24.834||0.136|
|3||30||Gabriele TARQUINI||BRC Racing Team||Hyundai i30 N TCR||17||1:25.059||0.361|
|4||69||Jean-Karl VERNAY||Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team||Audi RS3 LMS||19||1:25.256||0.558|
|5||12||Rob HUFF||Sébastien Loeb Racing||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||19||1:25.294||0.596|
|6||27||John FILIPPI||Team Oscaro by Campos Racing||CUPRA TCR||17||1:25.405||0.707|
|7||86||Esteban GUERRIERI||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic TCR||19||1:25.530||0.832|
|8||52||Gordon SHEDDEN||Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team||Audi RS3 LMS||20||1:25.577||0.879|
|9||25||Mehdi BENNANI||Sébastien Loeb Racing||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||18||1:25.658||0.960|
|10||48||Yvan MULLER||YMR||Hyundai i30 N TCR||15||1:25.679||0.981|
|11||15||James THOMPSON||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic TCR||20||1:25.729||1.031|
|12||7||Aurélien COMTE||DG Sport Compétition||Peugeot 308 TCR||17||1:25.868||1.170|
|13||68||Yann EHRLACHER||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic TCR||19||1:25.917||1.219|
|14||22||Frédéric VERVISCH||Audi Sport Team Comtoyou||Audi RS3 LMS||21||1:25.946||1.248|
|15||74||Pepe ORIOLA||Team Oscaro by Campos Racing||CUPRA TCR||21||1:25.947||1.249|
|16||23||Nathanaël BERTHON||Comtoyou Racing||Audi RS3 LMS||20||1:26.032||1.334|
|17||9||Tom CORONEL||Boutsen Ginion Racing||Honda Civic TCR||18||1:26.105||1.407|
|18||21||Aurélien PANIS||Comtoyou Racing||Audi RS3 LMS||17||1:26.256||1.558|
|19||70||Mat’o HOMOLA||DG Sport Compétition||Peugeot 308 TCR||18||1:26.371||1.673|
|20||20||Denis DUPONT||Comtoyou Racing||Audi RS3 LMS||19||1:26.379||1.681|
|21||88||Fabrizio GIOVANARDI||Team Mulsanne||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||18||1:26.384||1.686|
|22||66||Zsolt Dávid SZABÓ||Zengő Motorsport||CUPRA TCR||20||1:26.473||1.775|
|23||8||Norbert NAGY||Zengő Motorsport||CUPRA TCR||22||1:26.708||2.010|
|24||63||Benjamin LESSENNES||Boutsen Ginion Racing||Honda Civic TCR||14||1:27.065||2.367|
|25||10||Gianni MORBIDELLI||Team Mulsanne||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||13||1:27.388||2.690|