Mikel Azcona sets the early pace at Monza

TCR Europe championship leader Mikel Azcona set the pace in first practice at Monza, with the Volcano Motorsport driver lapping just under three tenths of a second faster than title rival Franco Girolami.

Volcano Motorsport CUPRA racer Azcona only went to the top of the timesheets in the final five minutes with his effort of 1 minute 58.247 seconds, deposing Sébastien Loeb Racing’s Felice Jelmini, who had been on top of the times for much of the half hour with his effort of 1:58.647.

“It’s a really good way to start the weekend like this, being the fastest in this really high-speed track,” said Azcona.

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“It’s only free practice one, but we saw on the last lap that Girolami set the fastest top speed in a straight line with 60 kg of ballast, so it means he was also really fast.

“We are battling for the championship and before free practice I thought he would struggle with 60 kg, but he was only two-tenths behind me and so I need to work hard and go faster because he is really, really good.”

Girolami, who is seeking to overturn a deficit of 37 points to Azcona this weekend, bagged the second fastest time just as the chequered flag fell, with a lap which was 0.283 seconds slower than the Spaniard.

Jelmini ultimately ended up in third fas the fastest of the Hyundai Elantra drivers, ahead of an impressive effort by Brutal Fish Racing’s Martin Ryba in fourth. Slovak racer Ryba had briefly been third before Girolami’s late improvement.

Comtoyou Racing’s Tom Coronel was the best of the Audi drivers in fifth, just over half a second off the pace, having at one stage been second fastest, ahead of the second Volcano Motorsport CUPRA of the returning Evgenii Leonov in sixth.

Jack Young put his Brutal Fish Honda in seventh, ahead of the top Peugeot of Jimmy Clairet in eighth.

The top ten was completed by Viktor Davidovski’s PSS Racing Honda, the last driver within a second of the pace, and Isidro Callejas’ Brutal Fish Honda.

The session ended with late yellow flags in the second sector when Janík Motorsport’s Mat’o Homola, who was ultimately 12th fastest, stopped on track, preventing any further improvements.

Second practice is scheduled to get underway at 16:20 CEST (15:20 BST).

Session results

POS NO NAT DRIVER ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME GAP
1 96 Mikel AZCONA Volcano Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 12 1:58.247
2 72 Franco GIROLAMI PSS Racing Team Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 14 1:58.530 0.283
3 44 Felice JELMINI Sébastien Loeb Racing Hyundai Elantra N TCR 12 1:58.647 0.400
4 17 Martin RYBA Brutal Fish Racing Team Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 12 1:58.672 0.425
5 32 Tom CORONEL Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR 13 1:58.834 0.587
6 16 Evgenii LEONOV Volcano Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 13 1:59.044 0.797
7 62 Jack YOUNG Brutal Fish Racing Team Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 12 1:59.181 0.934
8 21 Jimmy CLAIRET Team Clairet Sport Peugeot 308 TCR 13 1:59.220 0.973
9 110 Viktor DAVIDOVSKI PSS Racing Team Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 14 1:59.241 0.994
10 26 Isidro CALLEJAS Brutal Fish Racing Team Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 13 1:59.341 1.094
11 162 Dušan BORKOVIĆ Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR 13 1:59.403 1.156
12 70 Mat’o HOMOLA Janík Motorsport Hyundai i30 N TCR 9 1:59.406 1.159
13 20 Teddy CLAIRET Team Clairet Sport Peugeot 308 TCR 12 1:59.435 1.188
14 250 Mehdi BENNANI Sébastien Loeb Racing Hyundai Elantra N TCR 11 1:59.750 1.503
15 8 Nicolas BAERT Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR 13 1:59.882 1.635
16 10 Niels LANGEVELD Sébastien Loeb Racing Hyundai Elantra N TCR 14 2:00.076 1.829
17 14 Klim GAVRILOV VRC-Team Audi RS3 LMS TCR 12 2:00.082 1.835
18 25 Sami TAOUFIK Sébastien Loeb Racing Hyundai Elantra N TCR 11 2:00.312 2.065
19 66 Gilles COLOMBANI Team Clairet Sport CUPRA TCR 14 2:00.334 2.087
20 97 Bartosz GROSZEK Horňak-Aditis Racing Team Audi RS3 LMS TCR 12 2:00.496 2.249
21 77 Sylvain PUSSIER Team Clairet Sport CUPRA TCR 13 2:00.512 2.265
22 24 Jáchym GALÁŠ Janík Motorsport Hyundai i30 N TCR 14 2:00.668 2.421
23 5 Rubén FERNÁNDEZ RC2 Junior Team CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 12 2:00.672 2.425
24 101 Sergio LÓPEZ RC2 Junior Team CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 10 2:01.261 3.014
25 81 Damiano REDUZZI Trico WRT Hyundai i30 N TCR 6 2:01.346 3.099
26 38 Petr ČÍŽEK Horňak-Aditis Racing Team Audi RS3 LMS TCR 12 2:01.819 3.572
27 11 Gustav BIRCH Brian Madsen Sport Peugeot 308 TCR 10 2:02.547 4.300
28 53 Lukas STOLARCZYK BTC Maszyny Audi RS3 LMS TCR 13 2:02.615 4.368
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