Yann Ehrlacher secures pole position as Lynk & Co remain on top

by James Bowers

Qualifying for the second and third races of the World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) event at Zandvoort got underway early this morning. Unlike yesterday’s traditional qualifying format to decide the grid for Race One, today’s session would involve a more complex knock-out system.

To progress from from the first round of qualifying, drivers would have to be amongst the top twelve fastest on track. If they were unable to reach that threshold, their position from the first stage of qualifying would lock-in their grid slot for both races two and three.

From the first session, a few big names were eliminated early on. Having qualified third-fastest yesterday, Andy Priaulx could do no better than 17th due to a set-up change that didn’t work in his favour. Likewise, reigning champion, Gabriele Tarquini was also knocked out in 14th.

None of the Audi quartet made it through either, with the German marque largely struggling for pace so far this year. As is usually the case, Jean-Karl Vernay was their quickest driver, but nonetheless still found himself down in 15th.

Local hero, Tom Coronel, would have a session to forget. The Dutchman could do no better than 25th, earning him the penultimate grid position for both upcoming races, just ahead of Gordon Shedden whose WTCR woes continued.

Session Two would play a large role in deciding the grid order for Race Two. The second race of the weekend would, as ever, feature a starting grid defined by the top ten in qualifying reversed. Therefore, if a driver is able to go tenth-fastest, they will be awarded pole position for Race Two, while the driver in ninth will join them on the front row of the grid, and so on.

This time out, championship leader, Esteban Guerrieri, could only manage 10th – however that would of course guarantee him pole position for Race Two. He’ll be joined at the front of that race’s starting grid by the Volkswagen duo of Benjamin Leuchter and Johan Kristoffersson, who qualified 9th and 8th respectively.

Qualifying would then move onto its third and final stage. The top five fastest drivers from Q2 would enter a one-lap shoot-out to decide who claims pole position for the third race of the weekend; the feature race.

Saturday’s race winner, Thed Bjork, along with Yvan Muller, Norbert Michelisz, Augusto Farfus and Yann Ehrlacher would be the drivers to battle for the premier grid position.

In the shoot-out, Hyundai could do nothing to prevent a Lynk & Co lock-out for the top three grid positions. A mega lap from Yvan Muller placed him as the top qualifier, around half a second quicker than his nephew, Yann Ehrlacher, and team-mate Thed Bjork.

Norbert Michelisz was the best of the rest in fourth, while a scrappy lap from Augusto Farfus meant he’d go no quicker than fifth-fastest.

However, during scrutineering, the stewards adjudged Yvan Muller’s car to have been running on overboost during his pole lap. As a result, he’ll drop to fifth on the grid, thus promoting Yann Ehrlacher to his first pole position of the season.

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