Johan Kristoffersson claims maiden pole in second Suzuka qualifying

Johan Kristoffersson claims maiden pole in second Suzuka qualifying

Johan Kristoffersson
Photo: Clement Luck / DPPI

SLR’s Johan Kristoffersson claimed pole position for race three of the FIA World Touring Car Cup at Suzuka in Japan, putting his Volkswagen on top of the times on a drying circuit.

Kristoffersson went out first in Q3, on a circuit which was damp and drying after the earlier heavy rain throughout the day in Japan.

The Swede immediately put in his best lap of the weekend with a time of 59.627 seconds, which stood until Q1 and Q2 pace-setter Andy Priaulx set out on his lap.

Priaulx had been faster than Kristoffersson in the middle sector and looked set to claim pole, but the Lynk & Co driver went wide exiting the final turn and put two wheels onto the grass, meaning he could only manage the fifth quickest lap.

That left Kristoffersson with a maiden WTCR qualifying pole, ahead of KCMG’s Tiago Monteiro in second, who had earlier in the day claimed pole position for race one in the wet first qualifying session.

PWR Racing’s Mikel Azcona was an impressive third fastest in the leading CUPRA, ahead of Münnich Motorsport’s Esteban Guerrieri in fourth. Guerrieri had earlier clipped the tyres at the final corner in Q2, sustaining damage to the front-left of his Honda, only to then go quick enough to earn a place in Q3 after pitting for a quick check up.

Priaulx ultimately ended up in fifth, his time ultimately over a second off the pace after running wide onto the grass.

Thed Björk was the second fastest of the Lynk & Co drivers in sixth, four tenths slower than team-mate Priaulx’s time, which was the only sub 1-minute lap, in Q2.

Team Mulsanne’s Kevin Ceccon was seventh, the Italian putting in his best performance of the weekend so far at the circuit where he scored his maiden WTCR win last year.

Gabriele Tarquini was the best of the BRC Racing Hyundai drivers in eighth, just over half a second off the pace.

The top ten was completed by SLR’s Rob Huff and the second BRC Hyundai of points leader Norbert Michelisz, with the latter claiming the reverse-grid pole position for the second race of the weekend on Sunday.

The Honda’s of KCMG’s Attila Tassi and Münnich Motorsport’s Néstor Girolami completed the Q2 runners, the latter only completing four laps.

SLR’s Benjamin Leuchter just missed out on Q2 by 0.017 seconds and put his Volkswagen in 13th, ahead of the best Audi of WRT’s Jean-Karl Vernay in 14th.

Japense racer Ryuichiro Tomita was the best of the wildcard entrants in 15th, putting his Team Hitotsuyama RS3 just under six tenths from the Q1 pace.

Crucially championship leader Yvan Muller was only 17th in his Lynk & Co, which had to be repaired in just two hours after he crashed into the barriers in the earlier qualifying session for race one.

Taking into account points gained in both qualifying sessions, Guerrieri has closed the gap to Michelisz to just ten points after gaining six points across both of Friday’s sessions, whilst the Hungarian picked up no points in qualifying.

Race one is scheduled to get underway at 15:05 local time on Saturday (07:05 BST, 08:05 CEST).

Q3 results

POS NO DRIVER NAT ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME GAP
1 14 Johan KRISTOFFERSSON SLR Volkswagen Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 3 59.627 0.000
2 18 Tiago MONTEIRO KCMG Honda Civic Type R TCR 3 59.780 0.153
3 96 Mikel AZCONA PWR Racing CUPRA TCR 3 1:00.104 0.477
4 86 Esteban GUERRIERI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR 3 1:00.192 0.565
5 111 Andy PRIAULX Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 3 1:01.023 1.396

Q2 results

POS NO DRIVER NAT ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME GAP
1 111 Andy PRIAULX Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 6 59.864 0.000
2 18 Tiago MONTEIRO KCMG Honda Civic Type R TCR 6 1:00.005 0.141
3 86 Esteban GUERRIERI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR 6 1:00.026 0.162
4 14 Johan KRISTOFFERSSON SLR Volkswagen Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 10 1:00.040 0.176
5 96 Mikel AZCONA PWR Racing CUPRA TCR 7 1:00.215 0.351
6 11 Thed BJÖRK Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 6 1:00.280 0.416
7 31 Kevin CECCON Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR 7 1:00.353 0.489
8 1 Gabriele TARQUINI BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai i30 N TCR 8 1:00.367 0.503
9 12 Rob HUFF SLR VW Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 8 1:00.467 0.603
10 5 Norbert MICHELISZ BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai i30 N TCR 8 1:00.481 0.617
11 9 Attila TASSI KCMG Honda Civic Type R TCR 8 1:00.783 0.919
12 29 Néstor GIROLAMI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR 4 1:00.994 1.130

Q1 results

POS NO DRIVER NAT ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME GAP
1 111 Andy PRIAULX Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 9 1:00.226 0.000
2 86 Esteban GUERRIERI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR 10 1:00.421 0.195
3 11 Thed BJÖRK Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 10 1:00.476 0.250
4 1 Gabriele TARQUINI BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai i30 N TCR 12 1:00.485 0.259
5 29 Néstor GIROLAMI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR 10 1:00.498 0.272
6 18 Tiago MONTEIRO KCMG Honda Civic Type R TCR 12 1:00.510 0.284
7 14 Johan KRISTOFFERSSON SLR Volkswagen Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 15 1:00.559 0.333
8 31 Kevin CECCON Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR 15 1:00.596 0.370
9 5 Norbert MICHELISZ BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai i30 N TCR 9 1:00.656 0.430
10 9 Attila TASSI KCMG Honda Civic Type R TCR 14 1:00.716 0.490
11 96 Mikel AZCONA PWR Racing CUPRA TCR 14 1:00.742 0.516
12 12 Rob HUFF SLR VW Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 13 1:00.746 0.520
13 33 Benjamin LEUCHTER SLR Volkswagen Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 15 1:00.763 0.537
14 69 Jean-Karl VERNAY Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 13 1:00.810 0.584
15 7 Ryuichiro TOMITA Audi Team Hitotsuyama Audi RS3 LMS TCR 13 1:00.815 0.589
16 68 Yann EHRLACHER Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 12 1:00.862 0.636
17 100 Yvan MULLER Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 11 1:00.870 0.644
18 22 Frédéric VERVISCH Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 12 1:00.874 0.648
19 88 Nicky CATSBURG BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR 10 1:00.894 0.668
20 25 Mehdi BENNANI SLR VW Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 13 1:00.902 0.676
21 19 Jim KA TO KC Motorgroup Honda Civic Type R TCR 11 1:00.982 0.756
22 77 Ritomo MIYATA Audi Team Hitotsuyama Audi RS3 LMS TCR 10 1:00.982 0.756
23 55 Ma QING HUA Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR 14 1:01.032 0.806
24 37 Daniel HAGLÖF PWR Racing CUPRA TCR 16 1:01.045 0.819
25 10 Niels LANGEVELD Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 14 1:01.149 0.923
26 52 Gordon SHEDDEN Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 15 1:01.346 1.120
27 21 Aurélien PANIS Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing CUPRA TCR 14 1:01.392 1.166
28 8 Augusto FARFUS BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR 9 1:01.864 1.638
29 50 Tom CORONEL Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing CUPRA TCR 13 1:01.955 1.729