Santiago Urrutia tops both Pau practice sessions as team-mates hit misfortune

Santiago Urrutia topped both of Saturday’s free practice sessions for the season opener of the FIA World Touring Car Cup on the streets of Pau, as his Cyan Racing team-mates suffered from mechanical dramas.

In the morning session, Uruguayan Urrutia emerged as the quickest driver on a circuit he had never previously raced on, edging out team-mate and reigning champion Yann Ehrlacher by almost half a second with his lap of 1 minute 20.160 seconds.

Urrutia then went marginally faster in second practice – a session in which his team-mates Ehrlacher and Yvan Muller both experienced driveshaft problems on their Lynk & Co cars. Thed Björk had also earlier suffered from driveshaft issues in first practice.

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Néstor Girolami was the fastest of the Hondas in first practice in third, and the Münnich Motorsport driver also enjoyed a brief spell at the top of the times in second practice, before he was pipped by Urrutia and, later, Hyundai’s Mikel Azcona.

Azcona was thus second fastest in Free Practice 2, just 0.079 seconds adrift of Urrutia’s lap.

Having been fourth fastest in first practice, Cyan Racing’s Muller completed only 11 laps in the second session – 15 minutes shorter than the first at just half an hour – leaving him down in 16th after his driveshaft troubles.

BRC Racing’s Norbert Michelisz was the best Hyundai driver in FP1, the only other driver within a second of the pace, and he was seventh in second practice, despite finding three tenths of a second to actually be closer to the top time.

After none of the four Audis made it into the top ten in first practice, Comtoyou Racing’s Tom Coronel and Gilles Magnus improved in second practice to end the session in sixth and eighth respectively.

The late deal for Zengő Motorsport to field two CUPRAs on the 2022 grid meant no pre-season testing for either Rob Huff or Dániel Nagy, which showed in practice.

Huff was 13th in first practice, almost two seconds off the pace, before slipping to 15th in second practice. His team-mate Nagy was behind him on both occasions.

Notable was the fact that the best lap time of the day thus far, Urrutia’s time in second practice, was over 1.8 seconds faster than the qualifying lap record for the WTCC set back in 2007.

A relatively late schedule for the track action on Saturday means that qualifying gets underway at 17:30 CEST (16:30 BST) ahead of the opening races of the season on Sunday.

Free Practice 1 results

POS NO NAT DRIVER ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME GAP
1 12 Santiago URRUTIA Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 21 1:20.160
2 68 Yann EHRLACHER Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 24 1:20.649 0.489
3 29 Néstor GIROLAMI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic TCR 24 1:20.827 0.667
4 100 Yvan MULLER Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 24 1:20.858 0.698
5 5 Norbert MICHELISZ BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR 21 1:20.969 0.809
6 96 Mikel AZCONA BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR 20 1:21.173 1.013
7 86 Esteban GUERRIERI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic TCR 24 1:21.231 1.071
8 11 Thed BJÖRK Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 18 1:21.392 1.232
9 9 Attila TASSI Liqui MolyTeam Engstler Honda Civic TCR 24 1:21.608 1.448
10 55 MA Qing Hua Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 23 1:21.809 1.649
11 17 Nathanaël BERTHON COMTOYOU DHL TEAM AUDI SPORT Audi RS3 LMS 24 1:21.883 1.723
12 16 Gilles MAGNUS COMTOYOU TEAM AUDI SPORT Audi RS3 LMS 24 1:21.999 1.839
13 79 Rob HUFF ZENGÖ MOTORSPORT SERVICES KFT Cupra Leon Competición TCR 24 1:22.130 1.970
14 99 Dániel NAGY ZENGÖ MOTORSPORT SERVICES KFT Cupra Leon Competición TCR 24 1:22.296 2.136
15 18 Tiago MONTEIRO Liqui MolyTeam Engstler Honda Civic TCR 20 1:22.330 2.170
16 25 Mehdi BENNANI COMTOYOU TEAM AUDI SPORT Audi RS3 LMS 18 1:22.492 2.332
17 33 Tom CORONEL COMTOYOU DHL TEAM AUDI SPORT Audi RS3 LMS 25 1:22.548 2.388
18 64 Eric CAYROLLE COMTOYOU TEAM AUDI SPORT Audi RS3 LMS 23 1:24.750 4.590

Free Practice 2 results

POS NO NAT DRIVER ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME GAP
1 12 Santiago URRUTIA Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 14 1:20.125
2 96 Mikel AZCONA BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR 15 1:20.204 0.079
3 29 Néstor GIROLAMI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic TCR 15 1:20.308 0.183
4 68 Yann EHRLACHER Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 7 1:20.376 0.251
5 11 Thed BJÖRK Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 17 1:20.612 0.487
6 33 Tom CORONEL COMTOYOU DHL TEAM AUDI SPORT Audi RS3 LMS 15 1:20.627 0.502
7 5 Norbert MICHELISZ BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR 14 1:20.670 0.545
8 16 Gilles MAGNUS COMTOYOU TEAM AUDI SPORT Audi RS3 LMS 14 1:20.792 0.667
9 86 Esteban GUERRIERI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic TCR 14 1:20.811 0.686
10 9 Attila TASSI Liqui MolyTeam Engstler Honda Civic TCR 15 1:20.990 0.865
11 17 Nathanaël BERTHON COMTOYOU DHL TEAM AUDI SPORT Audi RS3 LMS 16 1:21.055 0.930
12 18 Tiago MONTEIRO Liqui MolyTeam Engstler Honda Civic TCR 16 1:21.123 0.998
13 55 MA Qing Hua Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 14 1:21.197 1.072
14 25 Mehdi BENNANI COMTOYOU TEAM AUDI SPORT Audi RS3 LMS 16 1:21.294 1.169
15 79 Rob HUFF ZENGÖ MOTORSPORT SERVICES KFT Cupra Leon Competición TCR 14 1:21.359 1.234
16 100 Yvan MULLER Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 11 1:21.709 1.584
17 99 Dániel NAGY ZENGÖ MOTORSPORT SERVICES KFT Cupra Leon Competición TCR 16 1:21.941 1.816
18 64 Eric CAYROLLE COMTOYOU TEAM AUDI SPORT Audi RS3 LMS 16 1:23.413 3.288
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