Norbert Michelisz flies to pole position for Vila Real race one

Norbert Michelisz flies to pole position for Vila Real race one

Norbert Michelisz
Photo: Florent Gooden / DPPI

Norbert Michelisz headed a Hyundai 1-2 in qualifying for the first FIA World Touring Car Cup race on the streets of Vila Real, as the BRC Racing driver beat team-mate Augusto Farfus by three tenths of a second.

Michelisz had set the early benchmark time in the session with a lap of 2 minutes 0.177 seconds within the first ten minutes, before the Hungarian then waited in the pitlane for others to beat his time.

It was Sébastien Loeb Racing’s Rob Huff who then demoted Michelisz at the mid-point of the session, the Volkswagen driver just five thousandths of a second over the 2-minute mark.

But Michelisz returned to the circuit in the final ten minutes and bettered Huff’s time, posting a 1 minute 59.498 second lap to beat the lap record from 2018.

“It probably was the lap of my life,” said Michelisz. “Honestly, there was no margin, for me at least, to go any faster than that.

“I’m really happy about the progress we did since yesterday, so this goes to the team.”

Farfus enjoyed his best WTCR qualifying session to-date, going second in the final minutes, whilst Lynk & Co’s Yann Ehrlacher also improved at the very end to claim third with the only other lap below two minutes.

Those late improvements left Huff in fourth, although the Brit stopped on the track at the end of the session after he hit the kerbs hard on his final lap and the car ground to a halt.

Similarly, Team Mulsanne’s Ma Qing Hua was fifth but also stopped on the track at the end, the Chinese driver complaining of feeling sick, whilst then limping back to the pits with a front-left puncture.

Nicky Catsburg was sixth in his Hyundai, the Dutchman losing his best lap time after being the cause of a second full-course yellow when he clipped a tyre stack which had to be re-positioned, as his team-mate Gabriele Tarquini had also done a few minutes earlier.

Aurélien Panis was seventh after an impressive lap in the best of the CUPRAs, ahead of SLR’s Johan Kristoffersson in eighth.

Thed Björk and Kevin Ceccon completed the top ten in their Lynk & Co and Alfa Romeo respectively.

After losing his best lap for causing the first full-course yellow, reigning champion Tarquini subsequently improved and was 11th.

Jean-Karl Vernay was the best Audi driver in 12th as the RS3 drivers continued to struggle for pace.

Struggling even more were the Honda drivers, with Münnich Motorsport’s Néstor Girolami just 14th and championship leader Esteban Guerrieri down in 19th on the difficult-to-pass street circuit.

SLR’s Mehdi Bennani qualified in 22nd but the Moroccan driver will start from the back of the grid for race one due to an engine change after the last round at the Nürburgring.

Race one is scheduled to get underway at 15:15 GMT / BST (16:15 CEST).

Qualifying result

POS NO DRIVER NAT ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME GAP
1 5 Norbert MICHELISZ BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai i30 N TCR 9 1:59.498 0.000
2 8 Augusto FARFUS BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR 13 1:59.797 0.299
3 68 Yann EHRLACHER Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 13 1:59.905 0.407
4 12 Rob HUFF SLR VW Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 11 2:00.005 0.507
5 55 Ma QING HUA Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR 13 2:00.075 0.577
6 88 Nicky CATSBURG BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR 13 2:00.199 0.701
7 21 Aurélien PANIS Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing CUPRA TCR 11 2:00.244 0.746
8 14 Johan KRISTOFFERSSON SLR Volkswagen Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 14 2:00.260 0.762
9 11 Thed BJÖRK Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 13 2:00.307 0.809
10 31 Kevin CECCON Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR 15 2:00.321 0.823
11 1 Gabriele TARQUINI BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai i30 N TCR 12 2:00.330 0.832
12 69 Jean-Karl VERNAY Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 13 2:00.392 0.894
13 100 Yvan MULLER Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 11 2:00.426 0.928
14 29 Néstor GIROLAMI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR 11 2:00.567 1.069
15 18 Tiago MONTEIRO KCMG Honda Civic Type R TCR 11 2:00.749 1.251
16 111 Andy PRIAULX Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 11 2:00.840 1.342
17 9 Attila TASSI KCMG Honda Civic Type R TCR 13 2:00.879 1.381
18 33 Benjamin LEUCHTER SLR Volkswagen Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 11 2:01.026 1.528
19 86 Esteban GUERRIERI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR 15 2:01.130 1.632
20 96 Mikel AZCONA PWR Racing CUPRA TCR 13 2:01.163 1.665
21 22 Frédéric VERVISCH Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 13 2:01.245 1.747
22 25 Mehdi BENNANI SLR VW Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 12 2:01.270 1.772
23 37 Daniel HAGLÖF PWR Racing CUPRA TCR 13 2:01.328 1.830
24 10 Niels LANGEVELD Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 12 2:01.642 2.144
25 52 Gordon SHEDDEN Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 9 2:02.466 2.968
26 50 Tom CORONEL Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing CUPRA TCR 9 2:02.742 3.244