Tiago Monteiro secures Suzuka pole in rain-affected qualifying

Tiago Monteiro secures Suzuka pole in rain-affected qualifying

Tiago Monteiro
Photo: Frederic Le Floch / DPPI

Tiago Monteiro secured his first FIA World Touring Car Cup pole position in the first qualifying session at Suzuka, giving Honda pole at the marque’s home circuit and the venue of Monteiro’s racing return last year.

On a wet circuit in the pouring rain, Monteiro proved he was able to master the tricky conditions by being on top of the times for much of the red-flag interrupted session, initially going quickest after four minutes with a lap of 1 minute 1.512 seconds.

The red flags flew for the first time after just six and a half minutes when PWR Racing’s Daniel Haglöf spun off at the last of the ‘S’ Curves, ending the CUPRA driver’s session.

There was just two minutes of track action when the session resumed before the session was stopped again after Tom Coronel aquaplaned into fellow CUPRA racer Mikel Azcona, curtailing the session of both drivers.

“I just aquaplaned,” explained Coronel. “I was on the outside of Panis and I braked off line on the outside and I just couldn’t stop the car.

“It’s very, very, very dodgy weather out there.”

After a lengthy delay to recover the two cars, the session then lasted just a further three minutes before Cyan Racing’s Yvan Muller, who had just gone third fastest, aquaplaned off into the barriers at Turn 1.

Muller’s Lynk & Co picked up substantial front damage after impacting the tyres, ending his session as another 15-minute stoppage followed.

Track action resumed with 18 minutes to go and ran uninterrupted for the next 15 minutes, with times starting to tumble inside the final ten minutes.

Andy Priaulx was the first to better Monteiro’s time, before both Frédéric Vervisch and Gabriele Tarquini then moved to the top of the times, the former with a time of 1:00.146 seconds.

Monteiro then went even quicker a minute later with his time of 59.713 seconds, ending up just over a tenth ahead of fellow Honda driver Esteban Guerrieri.

Néstor Girolami followed his Münnich Motorsport team-mate to qualify in third and make it a Honda 1-2-3 at the top of the times, whilst

Monteiro’s KCMG team-mate Attila Tassi had been fourth fastest with five minutes to go, but the young Hungarian caused a late red flag when he went off into the gravel and had his best time deleted, leaving him in 24th.

First practice pace-setter Niels Langeveld continued his good form to end as the top Audi driver in fourth, ahead of Comtoyou Racing team-mate Vervisch in fifth.

Tarquini was the best of the Hyundais in sixth, ahead of an impressive showing by wildcard entry Ritomo Miyata in seventh in his Audi.

Thed Björk was the best of the Lynk & Co Cyan Racing drivers in eighth, over half a second off the pace, whilst the top ten was completed by his team-mate Andy Priaulx and SLR’s Johan Kristoffersson.

Championship leader Norbert Michelisz was just 14th quickest after failing to get a handle on the conditions, with track space also at a premium on the short 2.243 km circuit.

Qualifying for races two and three is scheduled to get underway at 15:30 local time (07:30 BST, 08:30 CEST).

Qualifying results

POS NO DRIVER NAT ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME GAP
1 18 Tiago MONTEIRO KCMG Honda Civic Type R TCR 21 0:59.713 0.000
2 86 Esteban GUERRIERI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR 19 0:59.841 0.128
3 29 Néstor GIROLAMI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR 24 0:59.967 0.254
4 10 Niels LANGEVELD Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 23 1:00.039 0.326
5 22 Frédéric VERVISCH Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 19 1:00.146 0.433
6 1 Gabriele TARQUINI BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai i30 N TCR 22 1:00.201 0.488
7 77 Ritomo MIYATA Audi Team Hitotsuyama Audi RS3 LMS TCR 22 1:00.204 0.491
8 11 Thed BJÖRK Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 24 1:00.281 0.568
9 111 Andy PRIAULX Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 21 1:00.293 0.580
10 14 Johan KRISTOFFERSSON SLR Volkswagen Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 22 1:00.335 0.622
11 33 Benjamin LEUCHTER SLR Volkswagen Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 24 1:00.336 0.623
12 69 Jean-Karl VERNAY Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 22 1:00.412 0.699
13 31 Kevin CECCON Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR 23 1:00.470 0.757
14 5 Norbert MICHELISZ BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai i30 N TCR 20 1:00.504 0.791
15 68 Yann EHRLACHER Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 19 1:00.546 0.833
16 7 Ryuichiro TOMITA Audi Team Hitotsuyama Audi RS3 LMS TCR 21 1:00.628 0.915
17 88 Nicky CATSBURG BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR 18 1:00.652 0.939
18 55 Ma QING HUA Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR 21 1:00.713 1.000
19 12 Rob HUFF SLR VW Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 23 1:00.726 1.013
20 21 Aurélien PANIS Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing CUPRA TCR 21 1:00.774 1.061
21 19 Jim KA TO KC Motorgroup Honda Civic Type R TCR 23 1:00.997 1.284
22 52 Gordon SHEDDEN Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 23 1:01.084 1.371
23 8 Augusto FARFUS BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR 18 1:01.086 1.373
24 9 Attila TASSI KCMG Honda Civic Type R TCR 18 1:01.102 1.389
25 25 Mehdi BENNANI SLR VW Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 23 1:01.279 1.566
26 96 Mikel AZCONA PWR Racing CUPRA TCR 4 1:02.096 2.383
27 100 Yvan MULLER Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 9 1:02.688 2.975
28 50 Tom CORONEL Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing CUPRA TCR 7 1:02.769 3.056
29 37 Daniel HAGLÖF PWR Racing CUPRA TCR 5 1:03.185 3.472