YMR’s Thed Björk secured pole position for the opening FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) race at the Ningbo International Speedpark in China, putting his Hyundai ahead of the Audi of Comtoyou Racing’s Frédéric Vervisch.
Björk edged out Vervisch to the top time when he put in the fastest lap of the weekend so far with ten minutes left in the session, gaining his seventh pole position of the season by a margin of less than a tenth of a second.
Vervisch ultimately had no choice but to settle for second, unable to respond to losing a top time he had earlier held for six minutes due to a damaged radiator on his RS3. Nonetheless, a general lack of improvements in the final third of the session leaves the Belgian to start from the front row of the grid for race one.
BRC Racing’s Norbert Michelisz was third fastest and will share the second row of the grid with Hyundai team-mate Gabriele Tarquini, with both drivers having pushed beyond the limits in their pursuit of pace, running wide on several occasions.
Esteban Guerrieri was the leading Honda driver in sixth, ahead of the Comtoyou Racing Audi of Nathanaël Berthon in seventh, with the Frenchman equalling his best grid position of the season.
Hungarian Zsolt Szabó secured his best qualifying result of the season with seventh, giving the Zengő Motorsport racer the bragging rights as the best CUPRA driver on the grid.
Denis Dupont made it three Audis in the top ten and was eighth in his Comtoyou Racing RS3, whilst Sébastien Loeb Racing duo Rob Huff and Mehdi Bennani completed the top ten, the latter being 0.647 seconds off the pace.
Whilst his team-mate continued to claim the bragging rights, YMR’s Yvan Muller continued to be the only Hyundai driver not to break into the top ten, with the Frenchman down in 13th position.
Both WRT Audi drivers struggled for pace, being out-qualified by all of rival team Comtoyou Racing’s cars, with Jean-Karl Vernay the best of the Leopard Lukoil duo in 15th and Gordon Shedden in 21st.
WTCR newcomer Timo Scheider qualified his Münnich Motorsport Honda in 19th position for his début race, both in the series and in a front-wheel drive racing car.
The session was largely free of major issues, with the only notable incident being a red flag 35 seconds from the end due to Mat’o Homola, who qualified his Peugeot in 24th as the second slowest driver, stopping on the circuit. Homola will nevertheless start at the back anyway due to receiving an engine change penalty for race one.
Race one is scheduled to get underway at 15:30 local time (08:30 BST, 09:30 CEST).
|1||11||Thed BJÖRK||YMR||Hyundai i30 N TCR||11||1:51.028||0.000|
|2||22||Frédéric VERVISCH||Audi Sport Team Comtoyou||Audi RS3 LMS||9||1:51.081||0.053|
|3||5||Norbert MICHELISZ||BRC Racing Team||Hyundai i30 N TCR||12||1:51.157||0.129|
|4||30||Gabriele TARQUINI||BRC Racing Team||Hyundai i30 N TCR||10||1:51.202||0.174|
|5||86||Esteban GUERRIERI||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR||10||1:51.360||0.332|
|6||23||Nathanaël BERTHON||Comtoyou Racing||Audi RS3 LMS||11||1:51.456||0.428|
|7||66||Zsolt Dávid SZABÓ||Zengő Motorsport||CUPRA TCR||8||1:51.523||0.495|
|8||20||Denis DUPONT||Comtoyou Racing||Audi RS3 LMS||11||1:51.564||0.536|
|9||12||Rob HUFF||Sébastien Loeb Racing||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||9||1:51.578||0.550|
|10||25||Mehdi BENNANI||Sébastien Loeb Racing||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||10||1:51.675||0.647|
|11||74||Pepe ORIOLA||Team Oscaro by Campos Racing||CUPRA TCR||11||1:51.678||0.650|
|12||68||Yann EHRLACHER||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR||10||1:51.734||0.706|
|13||48||Yvan MULLER||YMR||Hyundai i30 N TCR||10||1:51.740||0.712|
|14||21||Aurélien PANIS||Comtoyou Racing||Audi RS3 LMS||10||1:51.759||0.731|
|15||69||Jean-Karl VERNAY||Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team||Audi RS3 LMS||12||1:51.808||0.780|
|16||8||Norbert NAGY||Zengő Motorsport||CUPRA TCR||12||1:51.887||0.859|
|17||55||MA Qing Hua||Boutsen Ginion Racing||Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR||11||1:51.889||0.861|
|18||31||Kevin CECCON||Team Mulsanne||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||11||1:51.963||0.935|
|19||42||Timo SCHEIDER||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR||10||1:52.308||1.280|
|20||27||John FILIPPI||Team Oscaro by Campos Racing||CUPRA TCR||7||1:52.382||1.354|
|21||52||Gordon SHEDDEN||Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team||Audi RS3 LMS||10||1:52.649||1.621|
|22||9||Tom CORONEL||Boutsen Ginion Racing||Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR||10||1:52.850||1.822|
|23||88||Fabrizio GIOVANARDI||Team Mulsanne||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||10||1:52.893||1.865|
|24||70||Mat’o HOMOLA||DG Sport Compétition||Peugeot 308 TCR||8||1:53.388||2.360|
|25||7||Aurélien COMTE||DG Sport Compétition||Peugeot 308 TCR||4||1:53.431||2.403|