Since the last time out at the Slovakiaring, the Balance of Performance (BOP) regulations (which are used to equalise the World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) field) have been updated.
After a woeful start to the season with a car that was markedly off the pace compared to the rest, Volkswagen’s customer teams have been given a helping hand in the form of a 30kg reduction in weight.
Honda have also benefited from 10kg of weight loss, however the same can’t be said for Hyundai, whose cars have been given the maximum compensation weight for Zandvoort, thus making them the heaviest on the grid.
The real controversy, however, surrounds Lynk & Co. Following a terribly difficult event at the Slovakiaring; a track which did not suit the wide front end of their car, the Chinese marque had been given an increase in boost from 97.5% to 100% of the cars’ power output (albeit alongside an extra 10kg of weight).
But after having trailed at the back in Slovakia, the Cyan Racing cars were the class of the field in practice at Zandvoort.
After initially being somewhat off the pace in the first session, by the end of Practice Two, the Chinese-Swedish cars held the top two lap times thanks to strong pace from Thed Bjork and Yann Ehrlacher. Andy Priaulx and Yvan Muller couldn’t quite match their team-mates, but were still in and around the top 15 in both sessions.
Sebastien Loeb Racing were clearly enjoying some new-found pace with their Volkswagen quartet. Johan Kristoffersson and Benjamin Leuchter found themselves in the top five positions at the end of practice two – something which they could only have dreamed about in events gone by. Rob Huff and Mehdi Bennani still have some work to do though, as both were still languishing outside the top 20 for the most part.
Elsewhere, Cupra once again looked surprisingly strong, with all four of the Spanish cars making it into the top ten by the end of practice two. A strong set of results for the likeable Tom Coronel would go down well with everyone, especially given that the Dutchman is racing in front of his home fans this weekend.
Compatriot, Niels Langeveld, and the rest of the Audi drivers weren’t having quite such a good time though. None of the German marque’s customer drivers could make it into the top ten in either practice session.
As for the season’s best performers so far, Zandvoort has provided a mixed bag of results in practice. Although Attila Tassi went fastest in Practice One, the Honda competitors have yet to pull out a top draw lap time, as Tassi’s was beaten by nine other cars in the second session.
Hyundai, meanwhile, probably still have nightmares about last year’s Zandvoort event. A harsh B.O.P rendered their weekend pointless in every sense of the word, so alarm bells must have been ringing when Gabriele Tarquini ended practice two as the slowest of the 26 entrants. It’s not all bad news though, as Tarquini’s team-mate, Norbert Michelisz, went third-fastest. Clearly, there is a big disparity within the Hyundai camp so far this weekend.
It is, however, only practice, and the shape of the time sheets could well look rather different in qualifying…