Yann Ehrlacher is 10 points and one step closer to the 2021 FIA World Touring Car Cup title, having gone fastest in both points-paying phases of qualifying at Adria Raceway.
Given the cool, autumnal conditions, it would take the drivers a few laps to get their tyres into a strong operating window at the Italian circuit. Norbert Michelisz was the first to do so in the opening phase of running, setting an early benchmark time of 01:50.715. However, much faster lap times were achieved in free practice two, and that became apparent when Ehrlacher managed to go six tenths of a second quicker than Michelisz on his first qualifying attempt.
It didn’t take long for the 1 minute 50 seconds barrier to be broken. Thed Bjork was the driver to achieve that feat, posting a new benchmark of 01:49.928 to elevate himself above team-mate Ehrlacher.
With five minutes left of the first knockout round, Ehrlacher then reclaimed the top spot with a lap time of 01:49.569, while Santiago Urrutia slotted in between the Frenchman and Bjork to make it a Lynk & Co 1-2-3. Crucially, this would give Ehrlacher an extra five championship points, extending his lead in the overall standings to 21 ahead of nearest challenger Jean-Karl Vernay.
Gilles Magnus then broke the Lynk & Co train, climbing up to third for Audi and pushing Bjork down to fourth. Behind them, Michelisz went fifth quickest, and with that was the final driver to score a point in Q1.
Meanwhile, Michelisz’s team-mate Gabriele Tarquini locked up and went off into the turn one gravel trap, causing the yellow flags to be deployed. Nevertheless, the Italian would still progress into Q2, having set a lap time good enough for ninth. Or so we thought. In the end, he was prevented from rejoining the second phase of qualifying, and therefore will start both of his home races from twelfth.
The biggest story from Q1 however, was the elimination of Vernay. The Frenchman was seething afterwards, having been unable to run on a fresh set of tyres at the end of the session due to being called in for a random weight check by the stewards. As such, the second-placed man in the championship will have to start both races this weekend from thirteenth on the grid.
Onto the second knockout round, and it was Frederic Vervisch who set the early pace, from Ehrlacher and Bjork in second and third.
Magnus had an off in sector two, but nevertheless he had still managed to set the fourth-quickest time of the session, prior to his trip through the gravel. The final driver to make it into the Q3 top five shootout for pole was Yvan Muller.
Nestor Girolami was the best of the Honda drivers in sixth, while Hyundai’s top qualifier was Michelisz in seventh.
Tom Coronel had one of his strongest qualifying sessions of late with a lap time good enough for eighth, while the top ten was concluded by Esteban Guerrieri and Cyan Racing’s Urrutia. As such, it will be an all-South American front row in the reverse-grid opening race, with Urrutia leading Guerrieri from pole.
With that, Q3 got underway, and it was Vervisch who was first to set his single lap in the shootout for pole. A tidy performance from the Belgian saw him post a highly competitive lap time of 01:49.510.
Vervisch’s title rival Ehrlacher was next to take to the track. Straight away, the Frenchman looked quick, taking nearly three tenths of a second out of Vervisch’s time by the end of the second sector. He would go on to lose some time in the latter part of the lap, but it wouldn’t matter as a new benchmark of 01:49.347 would take him clear of Vervisch.
Bjork couldn’t quite match the pace of the previous two drivers, and so would slot into third. It was a similar story for Magnus, who went fourth-quickest, while Muller ended up even further off the pace in fifth.
So, title rivals Ehrlacher and Vervisch will start alongside each other on the front row of the grid for the main feature race at Adria Raceway. But before that, the reverse-grid opening race will kick off proceedings at 10:00 local time (09:00 GMT).
|1||68||Yann EHRLACHER||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||3||1:49.347||–|
|2||22||Frédéric VERVISCH||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||3||1:49.510||0.163|
|3||11||Thed BJÖRK||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||3||1:49.515||0.168|
|4||16||Gilles MAGNUS||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||3||1:50.028||0.681|
|5||100||Yvan MULLER||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||3||1:50.656||1.309|
|1||22||Frédéric VERVISCH||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||4||1:49.492||–|
|2||68||Yann EHRLACHER||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||5||1:49.622||0.130|
|3||11||Thed BJÖRK||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||5||1:49.720||0.228|
|4||16||Gilles MAGNUS||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||5||1:49.721||0.229|
|5||100||Yvan MULLER||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||5||1:49.915||0.423|
|6||29||Néstor GIROLAMI||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR||3||1:50.156||0.664|
|7||5||Norbert MICHELISZ||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse||Hyundai Elantra N TCR||5||1:50.178||0.686|
|8||32||Tom CORONEL||Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||5||1:50.632||1.140|
|9||86||Esteban GUERRIERI||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR||3||1:50.643||1.151|
|10||12||Santiago URRUTIA||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||5||1:51.081||1.589|
|11||9||Attila TASSI||ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR||4||1:51.729||2.237|
|12||3||Gabriele TARQUINI||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse||Hyundai Elantra N TCR||0||No time||N/A|
|1||68||Yann EHRLACHER||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||8||1:49.569||–|
|2||12||Santiago URRUTIA||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||7||1:49.896||0.327|
|3||16||Gilles MAGNUS||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||8||1:49.900||0.331|
|4||11||Thed BJÖRK||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||8||1:49.928||0.359|
|5||5||Norbert MICHELISZ||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse||Hyundai Elantra N TCR||9||1:49.949||0.380|
|6||22||Frédéric VERVISCH||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||8||1:50.008||0.439|
|7||9||Attila TASSI||ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR||7||1:50.128||0.559|
|8||32||Tom CORONEL||Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||8||1:50.182||0.613|
|9||3||Gabriele TARQUINI||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse||Hyundai Elantra N TCR||8||1:50.336||0.767|
|10||100||Yvan MULLER||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||9||1:50.480||0.911|
|11||29||Néstor GIROLAMI||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR||7||1:50.483||0.914|
|12||86||Esteban GUERRIERI||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR||7||1:50.512||0.943|
|13||69||Jean-Karl VERNAY||Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team||Hyundai Elantra N TCR||9||1:50.527||0.958|
|14||17||Nathanaël BERTHON||Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||8||1:50.533||0.964|
|15||79||Rob HUFF||Zengő Motorsport||CUPRA Leon Competición TCR||7||1:50.859||1.290|
|16||8||Luca ENGSTLER||Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team||Hyundai Elantra N TCR||9||1:50.860||1.291|
|17||96||Mikel AZCONA||Zengő Motorsport||CUPRA Leon Competición TCR||8||1:50.995||1.426|
|18||55||Bence BOLDIZS||Zengő Motorsport Drivers’ Academy||CUPRA Leon Competición TCR||9||1:51.048||1.479|
|19||18||Tiago MONTEIRO||ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR||8||1:51.154||1.585|
|20||82||Nicola BALDAN||Target Competition||Hyundai Elantra N TCR||9||1:51.357||1.788|
|21||28||Jordi GENÉ||Zengő Motorsport||CUPRA Leon Competición TCR||8||1:51.477||1.908|