Tom Coronel tops red-flagged opening Aragon practice

Tom Coronel led an Audi 1-2-3 in the first FIA World Touring Car Cup practice session at Motorland Aragon this weekend, however a technical failure for his car meant that the Dutchman would also be the cause of the session’s premature ending.

With temperatures already pushing thirty degrees Celsius, it was Gilles Magnus who set the fastest lap time after the drivers’ first tour of the circuit however, highlighting the impact of Audi’s fresh weight break.

From the get-go, the Audi RS3 was on song at the Spanish circuit, following an update to the WTCR Balance of Performance which saw it lose thirty kilograms of ballast after struggling in the first two rounds of the year.

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Lynk & Co also looked in good shape in the early stages. The marque performed well at this circuit last year, with the likes of Thed Bjork and Santiago Urrutia taking victories for the Swedish team here in 2020.

Bjork then appeared to show that Lynk & Co hadn’t lost any of that pace, as he knocked Magnus off the top of the time sheets on his second lap. However, the Swede wouldn’t remain top of the charts for long, as all three of the other Audi drivers soon usurped him.

Of the bunch, it was Nathanael Berthon who went quickest, though the trio were eventually split by the CUPRA of Mikel Azcona – another car which had received a BoP weight break for this event – who rose up to second place.

Second soon became third for Azcona however, as Frederic Vervisch then posted a lap time to go four tenths of a second quicker than pace-setter Berthon.

Audi’s game of musical chairs at the top of the timesheets didn’t stop there either, as Coronel then went a further four tenths of a second quicker than Vervisch. As such, all four of the German marque’s drivers had now topped the session at at some stage.

Bjork then did his best to interrupt the Audi train at the front with just over ten minutes to go. However, the Swede was still eight tenths of a second away from the ultimate pace, but did at least displace Magnus from fourth.

Then with just a handful of minutes left, Coronel’s RS3 ground to a halt in sector two, resulting in a red flag and early end to the first practice session of the weekend.

So with that potential electrical issue halting proceedings, the Dutchman’s lap time of 2:05.555 would remain the quickest of all.

Vervisch and Berthon concluded an Audi 1-2-3, ahead of Bjork and Magnus. Azcona ended up sixth-fastest, while Yann Ehrlacher and Yvan Muller rounded out the top eight.

Luca Engstler wound up as the quickest of Hyundai’s quartet of drivers in ninth, just ahead of Urrutia who made it four Lynk & Cos in the top ten.

Championship leader Jean-Karl Vernay was next up in eleventh, though his nearest challenger in the points standings – Attila Tassi – had an even tougher time down in fifteenth.

Plus, with Tassi ending up as the best-placed Honda driver, it was beginning to look like it could be a very difficult weekend indeed for the ALL-INKL Munnich Motorsport squad.

Free Practice Two gets underway shortly at 12:45 local time (11:45 BST).

Session results

POS NO NAT DRIVER ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME GAP
1 32 Tom CORONEL Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 11 2:05.555
2 22 Frédéric VERVISCH Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 14 2:05.976 0.421
3 17 Nathanaël BERTHON Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 10 2:06.381 0.826
4 11 Thed BJÖRK Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 15 2:06.418 0.863
5 16 Gilles MAGNUS Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 17 2:06.478 0.923
6 96 Mikel AZCONA Zengő Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 14 2:06.837 1.282
7 68 Yann EHRLACHER Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 13 2:06.858 1.303
8 100 Yvan MULLER Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 13 2:06.863 1.308
9 8 Luca ENGSTLER Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team Hyundai Elantra N TCR 16 2:07.021 1.466
10 12 Santiago URRUTIA Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 14 2:07.088 1.533
11 69 Jean-Karl VERNAY Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team Hyundai Elantra N TCR 14 2:07.101 1.546
12 5 Norbert MICHELISZ BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR 15 2:07.140 1.585
13 3 Gabriele TARQUINI BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR 15 2:07.370 1.815
14 79 Rob HUFF Zengő Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 10 2:07.791 2.236
15 9 Attila TASSI ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 12 2:07.884 2.329
16 28 Jordi GENÉ Zengő Motorsport Drivers’ Academy CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 7 2:08.013 2.458
17 29 Néstor GIROLAMI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 13 2:08.065 2.510
18 86 Esteban GUERRIERI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 14 2:08.482 2.927
19 18 Tiago MONTEIRO ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 15 2:08.671 3.116
20 55 Bence BOLDIZS Zengő Motorsport Drivers’ Academy CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 14 2:08.750 3.195
21 19 Andreas BÄCKMAN Target Competition Hyundai Elantra N TCR 10 2:08.770 3.215
22 26 Jessica BÄCKMAN Target Competition Hyundai Elantra N TCR 15 2:09.195 3.640
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