Azcona with one hand on title after Barcelona pole and Girolami woes

Volcano Motorsport’s Mikel Azcona scored a sensational second pole position in as many days by posting the fastest time in Barcelona, as title rival Franco Girolami was hit by mechanical woes and failed to post a lap time.

Azcona had missed all of Friday’s running due to clashing commitments in the FIA World Touring Car Cup in the Czech Republic, meaning he went into Saturday’s TCR Europe qualifying session lacking his own setup data.

However, that appeared to not affect the Spaniard, who was quick out of the box and took only just over seven minutes to rise to the top of the timesheets in Q1 with an initial effort of 1:55.439.

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A subsequent improvement from Brutal Fish Racing’s Jack Young saw Azcona briefly knocked off the top, before the CUPRA driver went quickest on his next lap with a 1:55.220.

As the pace heated up in the second half of the session Teddy Clairet, with the benefit of a slipstream from brother Jimmy, went fastest with a 1:55.152, before Nicolas Baert put in a fast lap two minutes from the end with a 1:55.135.

Not to be beaten, Azcona ultimately bagged the best Q1 time with his final effort of 1:54.765.

Crucially, in the title fight, Franco Girolami ended the session without a time. The PSS Racing driver had posted a time early on which would have been good for 12th, but it was disallowed due to exceeding track limits.

Then, the Argentine had to pit with a mechanical issue on his Honda, and despite his mechanics looking into the issue for the second half of the session, he wouldn’t return to the track, leaving him to start both races from 24th and last.

In Q2, Azcona used the first part of the 12 minutes to scrub in some tyres, a task he had been unable to carry out on Friday.

That meant that with only one minute to go, the 25-year-old still hadn’t posted a time, before he clocked a lap of 1:54.992 with 15 seconds to spare to go faster than anyone else.

Sébastien Loeb Racing’s Sami Taoufik was second, securing the Hyundai driver a front row grid position with a career-best qualifying effort.

Teddy Clairet was third quickest, again enjoying a slipstream from brother Jimmy, ahead of Baert in fourth as the best of the Comtoyou Racing Audi drivers.

Brutal Fish’s Martin Ryba ended up as the fastest Honda driver in fifth, thanks to a late improvement.

Niels Langeveld, vying with compatriot Tom Coronel for third in the drivers’ standings, was sixth, ahead of SLR team-mate Mehdi Bennani in seventh.

The top ten was completed by the Brutal Fish Hondas of Jack Young and Isidro Callejas and the Volcano Motorsport CUPRA of Klim Gavrilov, who claims the reverse-grid pole position for Sunday’s second race.

Evgenii Leonov was 11th just behind his CUPRA team-mate, with Jimmy Clairet in 12th completing the Q2 times.

The best of those just missing out on Q2 was Venezuelan racer Sergio López in 13th, whilst Coronel was 15th, giving him an uphill task to battle with Langeveld in the only race he will contest in Barcelona this weekend due to his own clashing WTCR commitments for Sunday.

Also struggling for pace was Comtoyou Racing’s Dušan Borković, the Serbian driver in just 21st and some 1.5 seconds off the pace. Borković had earlier suffered from gearbox troubles in Friday’s practice sessions.

Race one is scheduled to get underway at 15:40 CEST (14:40 BST).

Q2 results

POS NO NAT DRIVER ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME GAP
1 96 Mikel AZCONA Volcano Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 5 1:54.992
2 25 Sami TAOUFIK Sébastien Loeb Racing Hyundai Elantra N TCR 5 1:55.036 0.044
3 20 Teddy CLAIRET Team Clairet Sport Peugeot 308 TCR 3 1:55.106 0.114
4 8 Nicolas BAERT Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR 3 1:55.258 0.266
5 17 Martin RYBA Brutal Fish Racing Team Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 5 1:55.457 0.465
6 10 Niels LANGEVELD Sébastien Loeb Racing Hyundai Elantra N TCR 2 1:55.626 0.634
7 250 Mehdi BENNANI Sébastien Loeb Racing Hyundai Elantra N TCR 2 1:55.717 0.725
8 62 Jack YOUNG Brutal Fish Racing Team Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 3 1:55.866 0.874
9 26 Isidro CALLEJAS Brutal Fish Racing Team Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 5 1:55.877 0.885
10 14 Klim GAVRILOV Volcano Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 5 1:55.982 0.990
11 16 Evgenii LEONOV Volcano Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 5 1:56.410 1.418
12 21 Jimmy CLAIRET Team Clairet Sport Peugeot 308 TCR 3 1:56.779 1.787

Q1 results

POS NO NAT DRIVER ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME GAP
1 96 Mikel AZCONA Volcano Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 9 1:54.765
2 8 Nicolas BAERT Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR 8 1:55.135 0.370
3 21 Jimmy CLAIRET Team Clairet Sport Peugeot 308 TCR 9 1:55.147 0.382
4 20 Teddy CLAIRET Team Clairet Sport Peugeot 308 TCR 7 1:55.165 0.400
5 25 Sami TAOUFIK Sébastien Loeb Racing Hyundai Elantra N TCR 9 1:55.376 0.611
6 250 Mehdi BENNANI Sébastien Loeb Racing Hyundai Elantra N TCR 6 1:55.377 0.612
7 14 Klim GAVRILOV Volcano Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 8 1:55.429 0.664
8 62 Jack YOUNG Brutal Fish Racing Team Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 6 1:55.466 0.701
9 10 Niels LANGEVELD Sébastien Loeb Racing Hyundai Elantra N TCR 7 1:55.482 0.717
10 17 Martin RYBA Brutal Fish Racing Team Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 7 1:55.655 0.890
11 26 Isidro CALLEJAS Brutal Fish Racing Team Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 9 1:55.712 0.947
12 16 Evgenii LEONOV Volcano Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 7 1:55.794 1.029
13 101 Sergio LÓPEZ RC2 Junior Team CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 8 1:55.815 1.050
14 24 Jáchym GALÁŠ Janík Motorsport Hyundai i30 N TCR 9 1:55.854 1.089
15 32 Tom CORONEL Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR 6 1:55.897 1.132
16 44 Felice JELMINI Sébastien Loeb Racing Hyundai Elantra N TCR 7 1:55.925 1.160
17 70 Mat’o HOMOLA Janík Motorsport Hyundai i30 N TCR 9 1:55.987 1.222
18 110 Viktor DAVIDOVSKI PSS Racing Team Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 6 1:56.074 1.309
19 77 Sylvain PUSSIER Team Clairet Sport CUPRA TCR 8 1:56.333 1.568
20 19 Felipe FERNÁNDEZ Gil RC2 Junior Team CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 6 1:56.346 1.581
21 162 Dušan BORKOVIĆ Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR 8 1:56.351 1.586
22 3 Giacomo GHERMANDI Lema Racing CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 6 1:57.074 2.309
23 66 Gilles COLOMBANI Team Clairet Sport CUPRA TCR 4 1:57.734 2.969
24 72 Franco GIROLAMI PSS Racing Team Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 2 No time N/A
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