Dušan Borković took pole position for the TCR Europe season opener at Paul Ricard, nearly half a second clear of Mikel Azcona and Daniel Nagy.
Borković set his quickest time of 2:13.781 seconds early in the second part of qualifying and was never headed, maintaining the Hyundai i30 N’s strong start to 2018 in TCR categories.
All 25 cars headed out onto the 3.6 mile circuit without issue, though a select few – including 2017 TCR Europe Trophy winner Josh Files – elected to return to the pits after an installation lap whilst the majority continued.
Practice pace-setter Azcona continued his strong start to the weekend by topping those that remained on-circuit with a 2:15.343, just ahead of Jean-Karl Vernay’s Audi RS 3 LMS.
Though he improved by a further tenth on his next tour of the circuit, once Files and co. rejoined the session times began to drop further still.
The Brit lowered times closer to those seen in practice with a 2:14.619, though team-mate Attila Tassi might have stolen that honour if not for falling foul of track limits in the Honda Civic Type R FK8.
With five minutes remaining, both Tassi and double TCR International Champion Stefano Comini found themselves in the firing line for elimination, and neither would escape.
Comini, who only announced his deal to race the Subaru WRX STI in mid-week, will start last.
Stian Paulsen did well to cruise through into the second part of the session despite setting the fewest laps in the rebuilt CUPRA.
As per the regulations, the bottom 13 dropped out after 20 minutes, with Loris Cencetti, Maxime Potty, Danny Kroes, Francisco Abreu, Tassi, Mark Jedloczky, Cedric Piro, Giovanni Altoe, Andrea Larini, Enrico Bettera, Gustavo Moura, Viktor Davidovsky and Comini the casualties, in that order.
The sheer length of the Circuit Paul Ricard ensured each driver would only set three or four timed laps in the 10 minute shoot-out for pole position, with avoiding track limits penalties an absolute must.
With that in mind, everyone except Nicola Baldan and Igor Stefanovski went straight out on circuit.
There would be no late drama this time around, with Borković’s early run enough to secure him the top spot.
Paulsen’s run to P4 ensures that Hyundai and CUPRA lock out the front two rows of the grid, the latter possibly a result of the recent BoP changes ahead of the weekend, the ride height now reduced by 10mm.
Britain’s Josh Files heads up row three alongside Reece Barr’s i30 N, with Vernay and 2016 ETCC champion Kris Richard for company behind in fifth and sixth.
Francisco Moura and Jens Reno Moller round out the top ten, with Stefanovski and Baldan’s decision to wait potentially telling as they struggled to get on terms with the others in Q2, and start eleventh and twelfth respectively.
The opening race of the weekend in southern France is scheduled for 14:40 CEST.
|1||62||Dušan BORKOVIĆ||Target Competition||Hyundai i30 N TCR||4||2:13.781||0.000|
|2||25||Mikel AZCONA||PCR Sport||CUPRA TCR||3||2:14.225||0.444|
|3||9||Dániel NAGY||M1RA||Hyundai i30 N TCR||5||2:14.264||0.483|
|4||34||Stian PAULSEN||Stian Paulsen Racing||CUPRA TCR||2||2:14.378||0.597|
|5||99||Josh FILES||Hell Energy Racing with KCMG||Honda Civic Type R FK7 TCR||4||2:14.392||0.611|
|6||8||Reece BARR||Target Competition||Hyundai i30 N TCR||4||2:14.437||0.656|
|7||69||Jean-Karl VERNAY||Leopard Lukoil Team||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||4||2:14.606||0.825|
|8||94||Kris RICHARD||Target Competition||Hyundai i30 N TCR||3||2:14.617||0.836|
|9||26||Francisco MORA||M1RA||Hyundai i30 N TCR||4||2:14.740||0.959|
|10||11||Jens Reno MØLLER||Reno Racing||Honda Civic Type R FK7 TCR||3||2:14.762||0.981|
|11||7||Igor STEFANOVSKI||Stefanovski Racing Team||Hyundai i30 N TCR||4||2:15.096||1.315|
|12||16||Nicola BALDAN||Pit Lane Competizioni||Hyundai i30 N TCR||3||2:15.171||1.390|
|1||7||Igor STEFANOVSKI||Stefanovski Racing Team||Hyundai i30 N TCR||8||2:14.034||0.000|
|2||25||Mikel AZCONA||PCR Sport||CUPRA TCR||7||2:14.053||0.019|
|3||9||Dániel NAGY||M1RA||Hyundai i30 N TCR||8||2:14.123||0.089|
|4||69||Jean-Karl VERNAY||Leopard Lukoil Team||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||7||2:14.589||0.555|
|5||99||Josh FILES||Hell Energy Racing with KCMG||Honda Civic Type R FK7 TCR||8||2:14.619||0.585|
|6||62||Dušan BORKOVIĆ||Target Competition||Hyundai i30 N TCR||7||2:14.746||0.712|
|7||26||Francisco MORA||M1RA||Hyundai i30 N TCR||7||2:14.762||0.728|
|8||8||Reece BARR||Target Competition||Hyundai i30 N TCR||7||2:14.863||0.829|
|9||34||Stian PAULSEN||Stian Paulsen Racing||CUPRA TCR||4||2:14.980||0.946|
|10||94||Kris RICHARD||Target Competition||Hyundai i30 N TCR||7||2:15.175||1.141|
|11||11||Jens Reno MØLLER||Reno Racing||Honda Civic Type R FK7 TCR||6||2:15.179||1.145|
|12||16||Nicola BALDAN||Pit Lane Competizioni||Hyundai i30 N TCR||7||2:15.486||1.452|
|13||14||Loris CENCETTI||Autodis Racing by Piro Sports||Hyundai i30 N TCR||7||2:15.652||1.618|
|14||88||Maxime POTTY||Comtoyou Racing||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||8||2:15.907||1.873|
|15||38||Danny KROES||PCR Sport||CUPRA TCR||7||2:15.960||1.926|
|16||23||Francisco ABREU||Sports & You||Peugeot 308 TCR||9||2:16.387||2.353|
|17||90||Attila TASSI||Hell Energy Racing with KCMG||Honda Civic Type R FK7 TCR||9||2:16.411||2.377|
|18||20||Márk JEDLÓCZKY||JLG Sport||CUPRA TCR||8||2:16.851||2.817|
|19||13||Cedric PIRO||Autodis Racing by Piro Sports||Honda Civic Type R FK7 TCR||7||2:17.446||3.412|
|20||63||Giovanni ALTOÈ||Pit Lane Competizioni||Audi RS3 LMS TCR DSG||9||2:17.460||3.426|
|21||66||Andrea LARINI||Pit Lane Competizioni||CUPRA TCR||8||2:17.780||3.746|
|22||71||Enrico BETTERA||Pit Lane Competizioni||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||8||2:17.851||3.817|
|23||24||Gustavo MOURA||Speedy Motorsport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||8||2:18.366||4.332|
|24||10||Viktor DAVIDOVSKY||PSS Racing Team||Honda Civic Type R FK7 TCR||8||2:18.543||4.509|
|25||42||Stefano COMINI||Race Republic||Subaru WRX STi TCR||7||2:18.582||4.548|