Yann Ehrlacher leads the way in opening Nordschleife practice

Cyan Racing’s Yann Ehrlacher was the fastest driver in the opening free practice session for the FIA World Touring Car Cup on the Nürburgring Nordschleife, beating team-mate Santiago Urrutia by a mere 0.099 seconds.

Reigning champion Ehrlacher, who won the main race at the circuit in 2020, went to the top of the times in the 40-minute session on his second lap.

Prior to this, it had been Comtoyou Racing’s Gilles Magnus who topped the times after the first run, although the Audi driver soon fell down the order as drivers took on their subsequent laps.

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Urrutia had in fact been second quickest after his second effort with a lap of 8 minutes 54.798 seconds, before the Uruguayan went half a second quicker on his third and final effort.

The most notable incident of the session came when Münnich Motorsport’s Esteban Guerrieri lost his Honda at Adenauer Forst and crashed into the barriers, ending his session prematurely.

Mikel Azcona was the top Hyundai driver in fourth, the BRC Racing driver being the only other person within a second of Ehrlacher’s effort, half a second adrift.

Rob Huff put in a strong performance in his Zengő Motorsport CUPRA to go fourth with his final lap, the Brit having earlier been third overall before the final round of laps.

Mehdi Bennani was fifth fastest and the best of the Comtoyou Audi drivers, with the returning Moroccan not having raced on the infamous circuit since the 2019 WTCR season.

Magnus ended up in sixth behind his team-mate, ahead of Nathanaël Berthon in seventh.

Yvan Muller was eighth quickest, the Lynk & Co driver over three seconds slower than his pace-setting nephew.

The top ten was completed by Zengő’s Dániel Nagy and Comtoyou’s Tom Coronel, the latter six-and-a-half seconds off the pace.

Of note, no Hondas were in the top ten, or indeed within eight seconds of the pace, 12th-placed Tiago Monteiro being the best of the Japanese marque’s entries.

Honda is the only manufacturer carrying compensation weight this weekend after its strong performance in the season opener, with the Civics laden with 40 kg of ballast.

Second free practice is scheduled to get underway at 19:00 CEST (18:00 BST).

Session result

POS NO NAT DRIVER ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME GAP
1 68 Yann EHRLACHER Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 3 8:54.143
2 12 Santiago URRUTIA Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 3 8:54.242 0.099
3 96 Mikel AZCONA BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR 3 8:54.645 0.502
4 79 Rob HUFF Zengő Motorsport Services Kft CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 3 8:55.169 1.026
5 25 Mehdi BENNANI Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021 4 8:55.639 1.496
6 16 Gilles MAGNUS Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021 3 8:56.093 1.950
7 17 Nathanaël BERTHON Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021 3 8:56.851 2.708
8 100 Yvan MULLER Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 3 8:57.403 3.260
9 99 Dániel NAGY Zengő Motorsport Services Kft CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 3 8:58.626 4.483
10 33 Tom CORONEL Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021 3 9:00.720 6.577
11 11 Thed BJÖRK Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 3 9:02.492 8.349
12 18 Tiago MONTEIRO Liqui Moly Team Engstler Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 3 9:02.836 8.693
13 29 Néstor GIROLAMI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 3 9:04.098 9.955
14 9 Attila TASSI Liqui Moly Team Engstler Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 2 9:06.762 12.619
15 55 MA Qing Hua Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 3 9:09.615 15.472
16 86 Esteban GUERRIERI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 1 9:30.987 36.844
17 5 Norbert MICHELISZ BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR 4 10:23.680 1:29.537
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