Nathanaël Berthon sets the pace in second WTCR practice session

Nathanael Berthon emerged as the quickest driver in the second free practice session of the FIA World Touring Car Cup event at Motorland Aragon. However, CUPRA, Lynk & Co and Hyundai all seem to be in the mix for a good result this weekend.

Under the blazing sun, it was Rob Huff who was the first to go quickest though, albeit over a second slower than the lap time managed by Tom Coronel in today’s earlier practice session.

Mikel Azcona also popped up in fourth place early on, possibly pointing towards a bit more competitiveness within the CUPRA package compared to what they managed to show this morning.

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However, after ten minutes of running, Audi comprehensively returned to the top of the pile, as Berthon went four tenths of a second quicker than Huff. Meanwhile, Gabriele Tarquini and Yvan Muller held third and fourth spot at this stage for Hyundai and Lynk & Co, with Azcona completing the top five.

The order didn’t stay that way for long though, as Norbert Michelisz moved up into fourth, before Thed Bjork then slotted into second place behind Berthon.

With two thirds of the session spent, Luca Engstler then went on a charge to post the third-quickest lap time, marking himself as Hyundai’s best performer in the session.

Esteban Guerrieri then had a small technical drama in his Honda, but luckily managed to get it going again to avoid any repeat of the red flags we had in Free Practice One.

While the Argentine continued to nurse his Civic back to the pit lane, Michelisz posted another hot lap, this time dethroning Hyundai stablemate Engstler from third.

Santiago Urrutia also improved as the clock ticked down, moving up to fifth in his Lynk & Co to push Huff back to sixth. In fact, he wasn’t the only Cyan Racing driver to improve in the latter stages, as Yann Ehrlacher shot up all the way to second place.

Berthon then solidified his presence at the top of the timesheets by going just a few hundredths of a second quicker than he had previously managed, posting a benchmark lap time of 2:06.181 – still around six tenths of a second short of the time managed by Coronel in FP1.

Behind Berthon, Azcona also made sharp progress up the order to snatch second away from Ehrlacher in the dying moments of the final practice session, suggesting that Audi and CUPRA may well reap the best rewards in qualifying later this afternoon.

Outside of the two Volkswagen Group brands, however, Cyan Racing Lynk & Co would appear to be their nearest challengers at this circuit. Ehrlacher and Bjork would finish the session in third and fourth place, with Urrutia and Muller both in the top ten as well in eighth and tenth position respectively.

Michelisz and Engstler were Hyundai’s best representatives in fifth and sixth, while Gilles Magnus and Huff rounded out the top ten in seventh in ninth.

Further back, points leader Jean-Karl Vernay still couldn’t quite match the best of the other Hyundai drivers, this time posting a lap time good enough for twelfth.

Honda are the marque which is struggling the most around this circuit though, with Nestor Girolami heading their quartet of entries all the way down in sixteenth place.

Qualifying is set to be a closely-fought affair then, as the battle for pole position gets underway later this afternoon at 16:30 local time (15:30 BST).

Session results

POS NO NAT DRIVER ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME GAP
1 17 Nathanaël BERTHON Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 6 2:06.181
2 96 Mikel AZCONA Zengő Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 8 2:06.347 0.166
3 68 Yann EHRLACHER Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 10 2:06.391 0.210
4 11 Thed BJÖRK Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 10 2:06.437 0.256
5 5 Norbert MICHELISZ BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR 11 2:06.454 0.273
6 8 Luca ENGSTLER Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team Hyundai Elantra N TCR 11 2:06.470 0.289
7 16 Gilles MAGNUS Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 10 2:06.559 0.378
8 12 Santiago URRUTIA Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 9 2:06.567 0.386
9 79 Rob HUFF Zengő Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 11 2:06.673 0.492
10 100 Yvan MULLER Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 11 2:06.676 0.495
11 3 Gabriele TARQUINI BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR 9 2:06.682 0.501
12 69 Jean-Karl VERNAY Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team Hyundai Elantra N TCR 11 2:07.224 1.043
13 32 Tom CORONEL Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 12 2:07.230 1.049
14 28 Jordi GENÉ Zengő Motorsport Drivers’ Academy CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 9 2:07.305 1.124
15 22 Frédéric VERVISCH Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 12 2:07.367 1.186
16 29 Néstor GIROLAMI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 9 2:07.373 1.192
17 86 Esteban GUERRIERI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 11 2:07.548 1.367
18 9 Attila TASSI ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 10 2:07.718 1.537
19 18 Tiago MONTEIRO ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 10 2:07.901 1.720
20 55 Bence BOLDIZS Zengő Motorsport Drivers’ Academy CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 11 2:08.037 1.856
21 26 Jessica BÄCKMAN Target Competition Hyundai Elantra N TCR 12 2:08.799 2.618
22 19 Andreas BÄCKMAN Target Competition Hyundai Elantra N TCR 11 2:08.846 2.665
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