Vervisch takes Feature Race pole position, while Azcona also impresses

by James Bowers

Frederic Vervisch will start from pole position in today’s World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) feature race, following a far more successful session in the Comtoyou Racing Audi than he could manage yesterday.

The first stage of qualifying saw some big names eliminated from proceedings early on. Rob Huff, Norbert Michelisz, Augusto Farfus – and perhaps most surprisingly – Andy Priaulx, all failed to get into the top twelve.

By contrast, the Audi teams (which struggled in Saturday’s events) appeared to have found some extra pace, with Jean-Karl Vernay coming out on top amongst that quartet of drivers at this stage. Thed Bjork was the fastest driver of all, however, in the first stage of qualifying, narrowly pipping the Spanish youngster, Mikel Azcona.

Onto the second stage of qualifying (Q2), the top twelve cars from Q1 would battle it out for a place in the top five shootout for pole position (Q3). This would also be the session that decides the order for the reversed-grid race which shall also be taking place this afternoon. In this respect, Nicky Catsburg came out on top by going tenth fastest, therefore claiming pole position for the reversed-grid race. Alongside him on the front row in that race will be fellow Hyundai driver, Gabriele Tarquini.

At the other end of the time sheets however, it was Frederic Vervisch who went fastest of all, securing his place in the pole position shoot-out. Mikel Azcona, the 21 year-old who is making his WTCR debut this weekend, also impressively secured a place in the shoot-out. The final three places in the top five would go to seasoned professionals, Yvan Muller, Thed Bjork and Tiago Monteiro.

So, with the five fastest cars in qualifying have been found, Q3 got underway. This would see the top five cars get just one shot at a flying lap to decide who takes pole position for the feature race.

A new system for 2019 allows the teams of the drivers involved to decide the running order of the cars’ flying laps. PWR Racing elected to go first, so Mikel Azcona would set the benchmark lap time. His time of 1:25.639 was relatively quick, however it’d be the slowest time produced in the shoot-out.

Next up would be Frederic Vervisch, who set a very impressive time of 1:24.721, almost a second faster than Azcona. Yvan Muller visibly pushed his car hard on his flying lap, and it seemed to pay off as the Frenchman set a time of 1:25.091 – good enough for a slot on the front row of the grid. Thed Bjork’s time of 1:25.224 was good enough for third, while Tiago Monteiro’s 1:25.593 secured fourth place on the feature race starting grid for the Portuguese.

After a dire day yesterday, it was Vervisch who would come out on top and claim pole position – a stark change in fortune for the Comtoyou Racing squad, who must have pulled an ace from their sleeve with the car’s set-up today.

Full Combined Qualifying Result:

PositionDriverCarLap TimeTime Difference to Pole Position (Seconds)
1stFrederic VervischAudi1:24.721N/A
2ndYvan MullerLynk & Co1:25.091+0.370
3rdThed BjorkLynk & Co1:25.224+0.503
4thTiago MonteiroHonda1:25.593+0.872
5thMikel AzconaCupra1:25.639+0.918
6thYann EhrlacherLynk & Co1:24.919-
7thEsteban GuerrieriHonda1:24.930-
8thJean-Karl VernayAudi1:24.964-
9thGabriele TarquiniHyundai1:24.997-
10thNicky CatsburgHyundai1:25.079-
11thNestor GirolamiHonda1:25.102-
12thGordon SheddenAudi1:25.292-
13thMa Qing HuaAlfa Romeo1:25.234-
14thAugusto FarfusHyundai1:25.270-
15thNorbert MicheliszHyundai1:25.328-
16thTom CoronelCupra1:25.357-
17thAndy PriaulxLynk & Co1:25.397-
18thDaniel HaglofCupra1:25.438-
19thRob HuffVolkswagen1:25.463-
20thKevin CecconAlfa Romeo1:25.475-
21stNiels LangeveldAudi1:25.486-
22ndAttila TassiHonda1:25.588-
23rdMehdi BennaniVolkswagen1:25.679-
24thJohan KristofferssonVolkswagen1:25.693-
25thBenjamin LeuchterVolkswagen1:26.111-
26thAurelien PanisCupra1:28.211-

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