Nicolas Baert romps to maiden pole position on home soil

Comtoyou Racing’s Nicolas Baert dominated the TCR Europe qualifying session at Zolder, as the Belgian used his home knowledge to take pole position by more than three tenths of a second.

Belgian drivers continued to prove that local knowledge is an asset at Zolder. Just after Gilles Magnus had topped the WTCR’s second practice session earlier in the morning, Baert went fastest in both the Q1 and Q2 segments of TCR Europe’s qualifying session.

In Q1, Baert had lapped in 1 minute 3.6459 seconds, before finding another three tenths of a second in the second qualifying segment.

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It gives the 19-year-old son of Team Principal Jean-Michel Baert his maiden pole position in the series, in only his second start, and also the first for an Audi since Magnus took pole at Spa last year.

Mat’o Homola was second fastest in his BRC Racing Hyundai, almost four tenths back, having set his time early on in the red-flag interrupted Q2 and not improved when the session went green after a four-minute stoppage.

Moroccan Comtoyou duo Mehdi Bennani and Sami Taoufik were third and fourth fastest, underlining the pace of the Audis in Belgium, the duo separated by just three thousandths of a second.

Mike Halder was the leading Honda driver in fifth, the German gaining a place in the closing seconds of the session, ahead of the second BRC Hyundai of Dániel Nagy in sixth.

Julien Briché put his Peugeot 308 in seventh, ahead of the late-improving Target Competition Hyundai of Andreas Bäckman in eighth.

The top ten was completed by Profi Car Team Halder’s Michelle Halder and Brutal Fish Racing’s Daniel Lloyd, the latter claiming the reverse-grid pole position for race two on Sunday.

Halder had only improved her time in the final seconds of the session having been 11th beforehand, which demoted Brutal Fish Racing’s Martin Ryba to 11th, in a session which saw the Slovakian racer make it into Q2 for the first time.

Pepe Oriola followed his two team-mates and was 12th, the Spaniard unable to keep up with the pace and ending up nine tenths adrift of pole.

Team Clairet sport’s Teddy Clairet had been set for progressing to Q2 until the final seconds of the session, when Andreas Bäckman’s lap dropped the Frenchman to 13th.

Jessica Bäckman was 14th in her Target competition Hyundai, almost a second and a half off the Q1 pace, ahead of the second Clairet Peugeot of Jimmy Clairet in 15th.

The pole-sitter at the last event, John Filippi struggled for pace in qualifying and could only manage 16th in his Hyundai, 1.5 seconds off the pace and the slowest of the i30 N drivers.

Race one is scheduled to get underway at 15:30 CEST (14:30 BST).

Q2 results

POS NO DRIVER NAT ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME GAP
1 8 Nicolas BAERT Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR 3 1:36.155 0.000
2 70 Mat’o HOMOLA BRC Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR 6 1:36.534 0.379
3 250 Mehdi BENNANI Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR 6 1:36.540 0.385
4 25 Sami TAOUFIK Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR 6 1:36.543 0.388
5 7 Mike HALDER Profi Car Team Halder Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 6 1:36.566 0.411
6 99 Dániel NAGY BRC Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR 6 1:36.570 0.415
7 24 Julien BRICHÉ JSB Compétition Peugeot 308 TCR 6 1:36.805 0.650
8 19 Andreas BÄCKMAN Target Competition Hyundai i30 N TCR 6 1:36.814 0.659
9 53 Michelle HALDER Profi Car Team Halder Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 6 1:36.908 0.753
10 123 Daniel LLOYD Brutal Fish Racing Team Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 6 1:36.916 0.761
11 17 Martin RYBA Brutal Fish Racing Team Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 6 1:36.933 0.778
12 74 Pepe ORIOLA Brutal Fish Racing Team Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 5 1:37.058 0.903

Q1 results

POS NO DRIVER NAT ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME GAP
1 8 Nicolas BAERT Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR 4 1:36.459 0.000
2 250 Mehdi BENNANI Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR 6 1:36.787 0.328
3 25 Sami TAOUFIK Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR 5 1:36.807 0.348
4 19 Andreas BÄCKMAN Target Competition Hyundai i30 N TCR 10 1:36.915 0.456
5 99 Dániel NAGY BRC Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR 7 1:36.926 0.467
6 70 Mat’o HOMOLA BRC Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR 9 1:36.929 0.470
7 24 Julien BRICHÉ JSB Compétition Peugeot 308 TCR 7 1:37.023 0.564
8 53 Michelle HALDER Profi Car Team Halder Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 8 1:37.028 0.569
9 7 Mike HALDER Profi Car Team Halder Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 5 1:37.048 0.589
10 123 Daniel LLOYD Brutal Fish Racing Team Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 9 1:37.223 0.764
11 74 Pepe ORIOLA Brutal Fish Racing Team Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 7 1:37.339 0.880
12 17 Martin RYBA Brutal Fish Racing Team Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 8 1:37.448 0.989
13 20 Teddy CLAIRET Team Clairet Sport Peugeot 308 TCR 10 1:37.551 1.092
14 26 Jessica BÄCKMAN Target Competition Hyundai i30 N TCR 10 1:37.919 1.460
15 21 Jimmy CLAIRET Team Clairet Sport Peugeot 308 TCR 8 1:37.932 1.473
16 27 John FILIPPI Target Competition Hyundai i30 N TCR 10 1:38.031 1.572
17 4 Florian BRICHÉ JSB Compétition Peugeot 308 TCR 10 1:38.382 1.923
18 66 Gilles COLOMBANI Team Clairet Sport Peugeot 308 TCR 8 1:38.593 2.134
19 81 Stéphane VENTAJA Team Clairet Sport Peugeot 308 TCR 11 1:38.710 2.251
20 6 Jean Laurent NAVARRO JSB Compétition Peugeot 308 TCR 10 1:38.713 2.254
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