Nathanaël Berthon bags final WTCR pole as Mikel Azcona seals maiden title

Comtoyou Racing’s Nathanaël Berthon scored his first FIA World Touring Car Cup pole position of the season in Jeddah, as Hyundai’s Mikel Azcona secured the 2022 drivers’ title by qualifying in third.

Berthon was the last to hit the track in Q3, and the Comtoyou Racing Audi driver, who had earlier set the benchmark in Q2, duly delivered, posting a lap of 1 minute 16.362 seconds to edge out Hyundai’s Norbert Michelisz by over a tenth of a second.

Michelisz had just minutes earlier pipped BRC Racing team-mate Azcona to the top time by less than half a tenth of a second, but the Hungarian ultimately had to settle for second and a fron row start for Sunday’s opening race.

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But the talk of the session was all about Azcona, who put his Elantra in third. The Spaniard eked out his points advantage over Néstor Girolami by a further three points in the process, giving him an unassailable lead and with it the coveted last-ever WTCR title.

Comtoyou Racing’s Tom Coronel had been the first out in the session, ultimately putting his Audi in fourth, with team-mate Gilles Magnus a further tenth back in fifth.

Wildcard racer Franco Girolami narrowly missed out on progressing into Q2, instead the Argentine put his Comtoyou Audi in sixth, ahead of the third Hyundai of Nicky Catsburg in seventh.

Münnich Motorsport’s Esteban Guerrieri was ultimately the top Honda in eighth, with the Civics still struggling for pace as they hauled the most weight around the Saudi Arabian street circuit.

The top ten was completed by Comtoyou’s Viktor Davidovski and Team Engstler’s Attila Tassi, giving the latter the pole position for the partially-reversed race two grid, with Macedonian racer Davidovski alongside.

Zengő Motorsport’s Rob Huff was 11th, missing out on the pole by virtue of having posted his lap time after Tassi as the two drivers posted identical times.

Néstor Girolami, Acona’s only title rival, had a dismal qualifying, ending up in 12th some seven tenths off the pace. The Münnich driver even failed to make it back to the pits after his final Q2 effort, having to pull off the circuit and then find out that his title hopes had ended even before the Q3 session.

Dániel Nagy was 13th in his Zengő CUPRA, less than a tenth from progression, ahead of Saudi wildcard entry Ahmed Bin Khanen in his Audi in 14th.

Tiago Monteiro continued to be the slowest driver in the field, the Team Engstler Honda racer the only driver unable to get within a second of the pace in 15th.

Race one is scheduled to get underway at 16:40 GMT on Sunday (19:40 local time, 17:40 CET).

Q3 results

POS NO NAT DRIVER ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME GAP
1 17 Nathanaël BERTHON Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR II 3 1:16.362
2 5 Norbert MICHELISZ BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR 3 1:16.469 0.107
3 96 Mikel AZCONA BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR 3 1:16.512 0.150
4 33 Tom CORONEL Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR II 3 1:16.564 0.202
5 16 Gilles MAGNUS Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR II 3 1:16.681 0.319

Q2 results

POS NO NAT DRIVER ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME GAP
1 17 Nathanaël BERTHON Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR II 10 1:16.199
2 96 Mikel AZCONA BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR 7 1:16.310 0.111
3 16 Gilles MAGNUS Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR II 7 1:16.325 0.126
4 5 Norbert MICHELISZ BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR 7 1:16.334 0.135
5 33 Tom CORONEL Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR II 9 1:16.379 0.180
6 72 Franco GIROLAMI Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR II 7 1:16.445 0.246
7 88 Nicky CATSBURG BRC Hyundai N Racing Team Hyundai Elantra N TCR 8 1:16.589 0.390
8 86 Esteban GUERRIERI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 7 1:16.740 0.541
9 110 Viktor DAVIDOVSKI Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR II 7 1:16.752 0.553
10 9 Attila TASSI Liqui Moly Team Engstler Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 9 1:16.767 0.568
11 79 Rob HUFF Zengő Motorsport Services Kft CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 7 1:16.767 0.568
12 29 Néstor GIROLAMI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 8 1:16.914 0.715

Q1 results

POS NO NAT DRIVER ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME GAP
1 96 Mikel AZCONA BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR 13 1:16.423
2 16 Gilles MAGNUS Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR II 13 1:16.514 0.091
3 72 Franco GIROLAMI Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR II 13 1:16.519 0.096
4 17 Nathanaël BERTHON Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR II 13 1:16.549 0.126
5 88 Nicky CATSBURG BRC Hyundai N Racing Team Hyundai Elantra N TCR 14 1:16.554 0.131
6 33 Tom CORONEL Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR II 12 1:16.565 0.142
7 5 Norbert MICHELISZ BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR 14 1:16.589 0.166
8 86 Esteban GUERRIERI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 15 1:16.728 0.305
9 110 Viktor DAVIDOVSKI Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR II 13 1:16.771 0.348
10 29 Néstor GIROLAMI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 13 1:16.834 0.411
11 79 Rob HUFF Zengő Motorsport Services Kft CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 17 1:16.912 0.489
12 9 Attila TASSI Liqui Moly Team Engstler Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 17 1:16.978 0.555
13 99 Dániel NAGY Zengő Motorsport Services Kft CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 17 1:17.055 0.632
14 24 Ahmed Khaled BIN KHANEN Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR II 17 1:17.309 0.886
15 18 Tiago MONTEIRO Liqui Moly Team Engstler Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 16 1:17.708 1.285
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