Tom Coronel topped the second TCR Europe practice session in Slovakia, with a lap time of 2:23.063 – nearly half a second quicker than his nearest competitor.
The drivers were dealt a much wetter set of conditions in the second free practice session of the day, giving them their first taste of the new Hankook wet weather tyre. However, with much sunnier weather forecast for the rest of the weekend, the data gathered in this session is unlikely to be applicable to qualifying.
Niels Langeveld had been quickest for most of the afternoon, but was usurped by Coronel with just over five minutes to go. Nevertheless, Langeveld’s initial benchmark lap time remained good enough to ensure it was a 1-2 for the pair of Dutch drivers on this occasion.
After the session, Coronel refused to celebrate too soon however, with his mind still very much focused on Saturday and Sunday.
“Being the fastest, being world champion in free practice – it’s not important!”, he joked. “I have a good feeling with the car. I always feel good, here at the Slovakiaring, and I’m doing quite strong. All the test days that we’ve been here, I’ve been the fastest with the team.
“Out of the seven World Touring Car races, I’ve won three here. Somehow, I don’t know, this track is really good for my feeling. It’s very technical; a good mix of high speed and low speed, so yeah at the moment I’m confident!”
It wouldn’t be entirely plain sailing for the charismatic Dutchman however, as a track limits violation earned him a trip to the stewards’ room.
“It’s always nice to meet my friends in the beginning of the first weekend!”, he laughed in response.
Meanwhile, Langeveld and the Sebastien Loeb Racing team will be particularly buoyed by second place in this session, following their struggles with the new Hyundai Elantra N TCR in during FP1. But, with Mehdi Bennani, Felice Jelmini and Sami Taoufik still mired down in twelfth, thirteenth and eighteenth respectively, it still appears that the French squad has some set-up work to do.
Next up on the timesheets, Jack Young was third quickest for Brutal Fish Racing and best of the Honda contingent, despite at one stage visiting the gravel trap in the final sector.
The final car to lap within a second of Coronel’s pace was fellow Audi driver and Comtoyou Racing stablemate Nicolas Baert, while Dusan Borkovic ensured that all three of the team’s drivers placed within the top five.
Spanish youngster Isidro Callejas revelled in the wet conditions for Brutal Fish Racing, ending up sixth fastest overall, having failed to breach the top ten in dry conditions.
Mat’o Homola was seventh quickest on home turf, while Franco Girolami failed to replicate his earlier form and completed the second practice session in eighth place.
Klim Gavrilov performed well again with his privateer team to go ninth, around three tenths of a second quicker than Viktor Davidovski in tenth.
Elsewhere, FP1 pace-setter Mikel Azcona failed to set a competitive lap time, as did his Volcano Motorsport team-mate Evgenii Leonov. The smiles within the Spanish garage didn’t vanish though, as the team simply appeared to decide against chasing lap time given the wet conditions on track. Azcona remains in good stead to perform well in qualifying.
Volcano Motorsport weren’t the only crew to consider sitting this session out. Coronel revealed that Comtoyou Racing had also considered abstaining from running, but in the end their decision to head out onto the track proved to be fruitful.
“First, we were thinking about not even driving,” Coronel explained. “But then two minutes before the session started, my engineer said he would like to try some things with the tyre pressure, so I went out.
“I had a good feeling with the car so I pushed it. We changed a little bit on the car, we came into the pits and made another change to the tyre pressures and that led to another step with the car. Now, let’s do it on Sunday!”
The next time the TCR Europe field will be out on track will be during qualifying, which is set to get underway at 10:15 local time (09:15 BST) tomorrow morning.