Norbert Michelisz secured a vital pole position for the opening FIA World Touring Car Cup race in Sepang, extending his series lead by five points as his best-placed title rival was Esteban Guerrieri in tenth.
Michelisz edged out Comtoyou Racing’s Aurélien Panis, who secured his first-ever front-row qualifying result, by almost four tenths of a second as the Hungarian continued to look strong in Malaysia.
The result was made even sweeter for Michelisz by the fact that none of his title rivals qualified in the top five, allowing him to extend his drivers’ championship advantage to 14 points over Guerrieri.
“I was quite happy with the car and my performance,” said Michelisz. “The laps were some of the best of my career.
“I started with an aggressive strategy but within the limits. I must thank the team for this today, it was a perfect performance. I take the glory, but I think I gained a little bit of time thanks to the slipstream.”
Münnich Motorsport’s Néstor Girolami was third, just three thousandths ahead of second practice pace-setter Mikel Azcona, who made it two CUPRAs in the first two rows.
Comtoyou Racing’s Frédéric Vervisch was fifth and the best Audi driver, just under half a second off the pace.
Augusto Farfus headed a trio of BRC Racing Hyundai drivers in sixth, ahead of Nicky Catsburg in seventh and reigning champion Gabriele Tarquini in eighth.
Team Mulsanne’s Ma Qing Hua continued to show top ten pace and put his Alfa Romeo in ninth, whilst Guerrieri completed the top ten in his Honda.
None of the Cyan Racing Lynk & Co drivers were able to get close to the pace, with the brand’s best title challenger Yvan Muller only able to manage 16th, 1.1 seconds off the pace.
Thed Björk fared even worse, with the Swede down in 28th and beaten by two of the four wildcard entries as he languished 1.6 seconds adrift of Michelisz’s time.
Brit duo Gordon Shedden and Rob Huff were just 22nd and 23rd in their Audi and Volkswagen cars respectively, with Huff having hit a tyre stack and stopping on the circuit late on, causing the only full-course yellow of the session.
Second qualifying is scheduled to get underway at 19:30 local time under the Sepang circuit’s newly-installed floodlights (11:30 GMT, 12:30 CET).
|1||5||Norbert MICHELISZ||BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse||Hyundai i30 N TCR||4||2:13.748||0.000|
|2||21||Aurélien PANIS||Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing||CUPRA TCR||8||2:14.128||0.380|
|3||29||Néstor GIROLAMI||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type R TCR||7||2:14.167||0.419|
|4||96||Mikel AZCONA||PWR Racing||CUPRA TCR||5||2:14.197||0.449|
|5||22||Frédéric VERVISCH||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||9||2:14.236||0.488|
|6||8||Augusto FARFUS||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team||Hyundai i30 N TCR||8||2:14.275||0.527|
|7||88||Nicky CATSBURG||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team||Hyundai i30 N TCR||8||2:14.283||0.535|
|8||1||Gabriele TARQUINI||BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse||Hyundai i30 N TCR||8||2:14.324||0.576|
|9||55||Ma QING HUA||Team Mulsanne||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||9||2:14.454||0.706|
|10||86||Esteban GUERRIERI||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type R TCR||7||2:14.546||0.798|
|11||10||Niels LANGEVELD||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||7||2:14.627||0.879|
|12||31||Kevin CECCON||Team Mulsanne||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||10||2:14.684||0.936|
|13||38||João Paulo Lima DE OLIVEIRA||KC Motorgroup||Honda Civic Type R TCR||8||2:14.746||0.998|
|14||18||Tiago MONTEIRO||KCMG||Honda Civic Type R TCR||8||2:14.811||1.063|
|15||37||Daniel HAGLÖF||PWR Racing||CUPRA TCR||6||2:14.835||1.087|
|16||100||Yvan MULLER||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||8||2:14.909||1.161|
|17||14||Johan KRISTOFFERSSON||SLR Volkswagen||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||8||2:14.929||1.181|
|18||69||Jean-Karl VERNAY||Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||9||2:14.934||1.186|
|19||25||Mehdi BENNANI||SLR VW Motorsport||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||9||2:15.147||1.399|
|20||50||Tom CORONEL||Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing||CUPRA TCR||8||2:15.181||1.433|
|21||9||Attila TASSI||KCMG||Honda Civic Type R TCR||8||2:15.212||1.464|
|22||52||Gordon SHEDDEN||Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||9||2:15.218||1.470|
|23||12||Rob HUFF||SLR VW Motorsport||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||8||2:15.221||1.473|
|24||68||Yann EHRLACHER||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||8||2:15.325||1.577|
|25||27||Mitchell CHEAH Min Jie||Hyundai Team Engstler||Hyundai i30 N TCR||9||2:15.357||1.609|
|26||33||Benjamin LEUCHTER||SLR Volkswagen||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||8||2:15.359||1.611|
|27||111||Andy PRIAULX||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||8||2:15.360||1.612|
|28||11||Thed BJÖRK||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||8||2:15.406||1.658|
|29||15||Hafizh SYAHRIN Bin Abdullah||Hyundai Team Engstler||Hyundai i30 N TCR||7||2:16.746||2.998|
|30||65||Douglas KHOO Kok Hui||Viper Niza Racing||CUPRA TCR||11||2:19.365||5.617|