Guerrieri grabs pole position for WTCR season-opener

by James Bowers

Esteban Guerrieri has taken pole position for the opening race of the 2019 World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) season. The Argentine put on a commanding display around the streets of Marrakech, however he was pushed close by the Cyan Racing cars.

Yvan Muller was the second fastest driver in the session, but an engine replacement due to a broken oil sump means that the Frenchman will instead have to start from 26th – dead last. As a result, everyone behind him is therefore pushed up a position on the grid. This means that Muller’s Cyan Racing team-mate, Thed Bjork will get promoted to the front row of the grid.

One of many returnees to World Touring Car racing, Nestor ‘Bebu’ Girolami will line up from third place on the grid, ensuring that both Munnich Motorsport Honda TCRs make it into the top three. Andy Priaulx, also making his return to this touring car competition secured fourth, just ahead of reigning World Champion, Gabriele Tarquini in fifth.

Despite some mishaps on track, Jean-Karl Vernay was by far the quickest Audi in qualifying, with the Frenchman ending the session in sixth place. Back for a full season in 2019, Tiago Monteiro made it three Hondas in the top seven, while Yann Ehrlacher made it three Lynk & Co cars (discounting Muller) in the top eight.

Daniel Haglof was the best of the series rookies, ending up in a very respectable ninth place, while Kevin Ceccon rounded out the top ten in his Alfa Romeo.

Punctures were a common theme in this qualifying session, with Frederic Vervisch, Ma Qing Hua, Rob Huff and Jean-Karl Vernay all picking up flat tyres. It remains to be seen whether this phenomenon will continue to be an issue in the weekend’s races.

Full Qualifying Result:

PositionDriverCarLap TimeDifference to Pole (Seconds)
1stEsteban GuerrieriHonda1:24.773N/A
2ndThed BjorkLynk & Co1:25.049+0.276
3rdNestor GirolamiHonda1:25.109+0.336
4thAndy PriaulxLynk & Co1:25.138+0.365
5thGabriele TarquiniHyundai1:25.174+0.401
6thJean-Karl VernayAudi1:25.177+0.404
7thTiago MonteiroHonda1:25.202+0.429
8thYann EhrlacherLynk & Co1:25.221+0.448
9thDaniel HaglofCupra1:25.227+0.454
10thKevin CecconAlfa Romeo1:25.234+0.461
11thNorbert MicheliszHyundai1:25.235+0.462
12thNicky CatsburgHyundai1:25.246+0.473
13thMikel AzconaCupra1:25.454+0.681
14thAurelien PanisCupra1:25.504+0.731
15thRob HuffVolkswagen1:25.534+0.761
16thAugusto FarfusHyundai1:25.539+0.766
17thNiels LangeveldAudi1:25.551+0.778
18thTom CoronelCupra1:25.589+0.816
19thJohan KristofferssonVolkswagen1:25.685+0.912
20thMehdi BennaniVolkswagen1:25.690+0.917
21stMa Qing HuaAlfa Romeo1:25.822+1.049
22ndGordon SheddenAudi1:25.918+1.145
23rdFrederic VervischAudi1:26.232+1.459
24thBenjamin LeuchterVolkswagen1:26.510+1.737
25thAttila TassiHonda1:26.522+1.749
26thYvan MullerLynk & Co1:25.012Engine Penalty

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