WestCoast Racing’s Gianni Morbidelli has claimed pole position for the first TCR International Series race at the Red Bull Ring tomorrow with his team-mate Kevin Gleason joining him on the front row in a Honda TCR 1-2.
Despite initial fears in Free Practice that the Hondas would be too far behind, Qualifying proved that there was no issues with the speed of the JAS Motorsport built machines. But as ever the field is close behind. Morbidelli’s pole time was a 1:39.798 with Gleason a further six tenths back.
The surprise of the session was Zengo Motorsport’s debutant Daniel Nagy, who beat a bunch of experienced SEAT drivers to take third place. Team Target Competition’s Stefano Comini qualified in fourth place whilst the Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing team-mates of Sergey Afanasyev and Pepe Oriola taking fifth and sixth places respectively.
Andrea Belicchi guided his Team Target Competition SEAT to seventh place whilst Sochi victor Jordi Gene quailified his Lukoil Craft-Bamboo entry to eighth place. On the debut of the new Engstler Motorsport Volkswagen Golfs, the pace they showed in Free Practice was not translated into qualifying. Mikhail Grachev was fastest in FP2 in his Golf but it was team-mate Pol Rosell who qualified tenth and therefore gives the new Volkswagen the 2nd race Pole Position.
Igor Skuz managed to qualify 11th in his WestCoast Racing Honda Civic but he will start in 16th place after a penalty applied from an incident at the Salzburgring with Bas Schouten in race two back in May. Engstler Motorsports Lorenzo Veglia and Team Target Competition guest drivers Michael Cerruti and Gabriele Marotta will complete the grid for the races as all three drivers will start in 12th, 13th and 14th places respectively. Proteam Racing suffered another torrid session as Diego Romanini was only able to complete a bunch of laps before his Ford Focus stopped along the track due to a technical failure.
Gianni Morbidelli was very happy to claim pole position.
“It was an unexpected pole and I am very happy, because I really love this track and its facilities. I was really impressed by the three quick laps I did, it shows we came a long way since this morning’s first free practice. We changed a lot of things in the set-up and made some final adjustments between Q1 and Q2. The track conditions have been changing constantly during the day, given also the rising temperatures and the different tyre compounds left by the other series. We’ll see how things will go tomorrow. The start will be key and I hope we can improve from recent races. My objective is clear: to retrieve the championship leadership, so I’m happy to have already taken the five points of the pole.”
Kevin Gleason thanked the team for their hard work in helping get the quick sorted for Qualifying.
“I think I still had a little bit in my car, but there was no way for me to match Gianni’s time. Still, I am very happy because the team did a great job improving the set-up throughout the day and I did well also in learning the circuit, which is quite technical. I drove here on new tyres for the first time in Q1, so the results is really not bad!”
Daniel Nagy was overjoyed to qualify in third place on his TCR International Series debut.
“I cannot believe I am in the top three for my first international outing, in such a competitive series as the TCR. I did know the track for having raced here a couple of years ago in the Suzuki Cup, it’s a pretty fast and straightforward track which I like, but I never had driven the SEAT Leon before this morning. So, I feel really happy to be in the top three and thank Zengo Motorsport for giving me this wonderful opportunity.”