Néstor Girolami snatches pole position in truncated twilight qualifying

Headlights ablaze, Néstor Girolami eclipsed the lap times set during practice to take pole position as the sun set over the Nürburgring.

With a lap time of 8 minutes 51.802 seconds to his name, the Argentine came out on top at the end of qualifying with over a second’s gap to the next fastest driver.

The format for qualifying looked a bit different to usual this time out though. Instead of the three-phase knockout rounds that we have become accustomed to, a simple 40-minute uninterrupted track session would decide the starting grid for this weekend’s two WTCR races.

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In the early stages of the session, Yann Ehrlacher looked like the man to beat. However, a miscalculation from the Cyan Racing team meant that he was unable to get to the start line for his final flying lap before the chequered flags were waved. Girolami in the Münnich Motorsport Honda was therefore able to snatch pole position away without any reply from the Frenchman.

Having set the pace in both practice sessions prior to qualifying, Attila Tassi claimed third to make it two Münnich Motorsport cars on the front two rows of the grid. Thed Björk did likewise for Cyan Racing by finishing the session in fourth.

In stark contrast to practice, Tom Coronel emerged as the quickest of the Comtoyou Racing Audi cohort with a time good enough for fifth place on the race two starting grid.

Just over a tenth of a second behind him, Mikel Azcona secured a somewhat surprising sixth place for the new Zengő Motorsport-run CUPRA Leon. However, it wasn’t all plain sailing, as Azcona was called into the pitlane by race control for exceeding noise limits. This issue also plagued the CUPRA of Bence Boldizs before he could even set a lap time, casting the young Hungarian to the very back of the grid for both races.

After crashing at Aremberg in free practice two, the Cyan Racing crew managed to get Santiago Urrutia’s car ready in time for qualifying. He repaid them with a steady performance to secure seventh place on the grid, however a penalty may be awaiting him after some confusion as to whether or not he correctly entered the weighbridge for scrutineering purposes.

Esteban Guerrieri’s quiet weekend continued with eight place, ahead of Jean-Karl Vernay in ninth for the Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo squad.

Tenth place however, and pole position for the partially reversed grid opening race, would go to Comtoyou Racing’s Nathanaël Berthon – the man who jumped the start from pole position last time out at Zolder.

Yvan Muller will be disappointed with an eleventh place starting position for both races, as will Gilles Magnus in twelfth. The Belgian youngster had looked razor sharp in practice, but a mechanical failure meant he only had one attempt at a flying lap in qualifying. Tiago Monteiro and Gábor Kismarty-Lechner rounded out the drivers who were able to set a lap time.

Finding himself mired down in fifteenth, Jack Young’s tricky day did not get any easier in this session. A front-left puncture sent his Renault off into the gravel trap and out of action at turn eight, keeping up his 100% record of visiting the kitty litter during every WTCR session here at the Nürburgring.

In fact, Young’s off-track excursion – and the rather drawn-out recovery of his car – led to a yellow flag period which effectively neutralised most of the session.

The first race of the weekend gets underway at 15:40 BST (26:40 CEST) on Friday.

Qualifying results

POS NO DRIVER NAT ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME GAP
1 29 Néstor GIROLAMI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 2 8:51.802 0.000
2 68 Yann EHRLACHER Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 03 TCR 1 8:52.965 1.163
3 9 Attila TASSI ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 2 8:54.091 2.289
4 11 Thed BJÖRK Cyan Performance Lynk & Co 03 TCR 2 8:54.870 3.068
5 31 Tom CORONEL Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2 8:55.087 3.285
6 96 Mikel AZCONA Zengő Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición 1 8:55.241 3.439
7 12 Santiago URRUTIA Cyan Performance Lynk & Co 03 TCR 2 8:55.307 3.505
8 86 Esteban GUERRIERI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 2 8:55.590 3.788
9 69 Jean-Karl VERNAY Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR 2 8:56.264 4.462
10 17 Nathanaël BERTHON Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2 8:56.377 4.575
11 100 Yvan MULLER Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 03 TCR 2 8:56.981 5.179
12 16 Gilles MAGNUS Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2 8:58.999 7.197
13 18 Tiago MONTEIRO ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 2 9:02.573 10.771
14 99 Gábor KISMARTY-LECHNER Zengő Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición 1 10:40.456 48.654
15 7 Jack YOUNG Vuković Motorsport Renault Mégane RS TCR 1 No time N/A
16 55 Bence BOLDIZS Zengő Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición 0 No time N/A
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