Néstor Girolami claims pole position at Vallelunga

Münnich Motorsport’s Néstor Girolami claimed his second pole position of the season in qualifying for the FIA World Touring Car Cup at Vallelunga, becoming the only driver all day to lap in the 1 minute 14s.

Girolami had been quick in practice – the best Honda driver all day – but until qualifying the Argentine hadn’t shown the speed to top the practice timesheets, having been third and fifth respectively in the earlier sessions.

Qualifying in stifling hot 40 degree air temperatures was a different story, though, and after being beaten to the top time in Q1 by team-mate and compatriot Esteban Guerrieri, Girolami was then the fastest driver in Q2, with a lap of 1:15.083.

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The 33-year-old then went even better on his single-lap Q3 effort, posting a time of 1:14.811 to become the only driver to lap the short ‘National’ variant of the circuit in the 1:14s.

“I had nothing left!” said Girolami. “We knew at this track we were so good. We have had two days of testing and this work has paid off.

“I’m grateful to the team and Honda because we worked really hard. We know this is the last opportunity we have to reduce the gap to [Mikel] Azcona, otherwise for us the title chances are finished, because we have a gap of 40 points and we need to somehow reduce that.

“A good first step today and tomorrow we have two long races ahead. The car is very good and over one lap we are performing really well.

“In the race, we are suffering, as you have probably seen in the last races, with the heat. We are slowing down too much, so we have to take the points in qualifying.”

Girolami’s team even thought his lap was too fast – “OK, it’s good, but it was much too quick,” said Girolami’s engineer over the team radio after the lap, clearly worried out the implications for Compensation Weight in the future.

Girolami edged out Hyundai’s Mikel Azcona, the Spaniard ending up 0.241 seconds adrift in his Elantra N.

Azcona’s BRC Racing team-mate Norbert Michelisz was third, just under half a second off the pace, ahead of the best Audi of FP1 pace-setter Nathanaël Berthon in fourth.

Although Guerrieri had topped Q1, a mistake on his Q3 lap left him in fifth, seven tenths slower than his team-mate.

Drivers left it late to go for their second runs in Q2, which ultimately meant that, amongst others, Team Engstler’s Attila Tassi, second in Q1, didn’t have enough time to complete an out lap and had to settle for sixth, missing the cut to Q3.

Comtoyou Racing’s Mehdi Bennani was seventh, ahead of team-mate Gilles Magnus in eighth, the Belgian making a mistake on his final effort which meant he had to get out of the way of his team-mates.

Cyan Racing continued to struggle, with Santiago Urrutia making a late improvement in Q2 to grab ninth, ahead of team-mate Yann Ehrlacher in tenth.

The result will come as some consultation to the Lynk & Co drivers – if the team chooses to race because of concerns over tyre safety – as it gives them the partially-reversed grid pole for race two on Sunday.

Ma Qing Hua put his Lynk & Co in 11th, ahead of the fourth Audi of Tom Coronel in 12th.

Cyan Racing’s Yvan Muller, who had been slowest in both practice sessions, had been set to improve his time on his last Q1 lap, but he was asked to back off at the last minute as it would have eliminated title contender Ehrlacher, much to Muller’s frustration, leaving him in 13th for both races.

The sole Zengő Motorsport CUPRA of Rob Huff (Dániel Nagy is absent due to injury and car damage) was 14th, with the Cyan Racing car of Thed Björk and Team Engstler’s Tiago Monteiro completing the order in 15th and 16th respectively.

Race one is scheduled to get underway at 11:15 CEST (10:15 BST) on Sunday.

Q3 results

POS NO NAT DRIVER ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME GAP
1 29 Néstor GIROLAMI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 3 1:14.811
2 96 Mikel AZCONA BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR 3 1:15.052 0.241
3 5 Norbert MICHELISZ BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR 3 1:15.280 0.469
4 17 Nathanaël BERTHON Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021 3 1:15.341 0.530
5 86 Esteban GUERRIERI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 3 1:15.518 0.707

Q2 results

POS NO NAT DRIVER ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME GAP
1 29 Néstor GIROLAMI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 4 1:15.083
2 86 Esteban GUERRIERI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 4 1:15.158 0.075
3 96 Mikel AZCONA BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR 5 1:15.168 0.085
4 5 Norbert MICHELISZ BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR 5 1:15.176 0.093
5 17 Nathanaël BERTHON Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021 3 1:15.271 0.188
6 9 Attila TASSI Liqui Moly Team Engstler Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 4 1:15.341 0.258
7 25 Mehdi BENNANI Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021 5 1:15.347 0.264
8 16 Gilles MAGNUS Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021 5 1:15.368 0.285
9 12 Santiago URRUTIA Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 5 1:15.401 0.318
10 68 Yann EHRLACHER Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 5 1:15.406 0.323
11 55 MA Qing Hua Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 5 1:15.483 0.400
12 33 Tom CORONEL Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021 5 1:15.823 0.740

Q1 results

POS NO NAT DRIVER ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME GAP
1 86 Esteban GUERRIERI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 9 1:15.140
2 9 Attila TASSI Liqui Moly Team Engstler Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 5 1:15.210 0.070
3 96 Mikel AZCONA BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR 9 1:15.248 0.108
4 29 Néstor GIROLAMI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 7 1:15.266 0.126
5 12 Santiago URRUTIA Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 11 1:15.305 0.165
6 17 Nathanaël BERTHON Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021 9 1:15.315 0.175
7 25 Mehdi BENNANI Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021 8 1:15.329 0.189
8 5 Norbert MICHELISZ BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR 9 1:15.338 0.198
9 55 MA Qing Hua Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 12 1:15.458 0.318
10 16 Gilles MAGNUS Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021 9 1:15.512 0.372
11 33 Tom CORONEL Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021 10 1:15.585 0.445
12 68 Yann EHRLACHER Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 11 1:15.599 0.459
13 100 Yvan MULLER Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 11 1:15.679 0.539
14 79 Rob HUFF Zengő Motorsport Services Kft CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 11 1:15.696 0.556
15 11 Thed BJÖRK Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 11 1:15.789 0.649
16 18 Tiago MONTEIRO Liqui Moly Team Engstler Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 10 1:15.834 0.694
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