Benjamin Leuchter grabs maiden pole position at the Nordschleife

by James Bowers

Benjamin Leuchter will start the third World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) race this weekend from pole position, in front of his home fans. The German used every ounce of his local knowledge of the Nordschleife to come out on top in very changeable, drying circuit conditions.

All in all, it was a very strong performance by the Sebastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen crew. Joining him on the front row of the grid for Race Three is 2012 World Champion, Rob Huff, who will undoubtedly be enjoying this return to the pointy end of the grid.

Behind them in third; Esteban Guerrieri pulled out yet another top drawer performance. The Argentine is becoming more and more consistent, and is beginning to look more and more comfortable in his role as championship points leader too.

Next up; the BRC Hyundai duo of Norbert Michelisz and Gabriele Tarquini will line up from fourth and fifth respectively, while the third Volkswagen of Mehdi Bennani rounds out the top six.

Frederic Vervisch‘s final lap catapulted him from 21st to 7th, making him the best of the Audi bunch, but not by much. Wildcard Antti Buri outperformed many of the series regulars in similar machinery, and at one stage even looked in contention to take pole position. In the end though, the Finn was just a tenth of a second slower than Vervisch – even with extra compensation ballast onboard.

Sandwiched in between them both was 20 year-old Hungarian, Attila Tassi. However, the youngster disobeyed speed restrictions enforced at the end of the lap when Daniel Haglof‘s stricken Cupra became stationary in a dangerous area after heavy contact with the barriers at Tiergarten. He will therefore serve a 10-place grid penalty as a result.

The final car in the top ten was Johan Kristoffersson. This was more good news for Volkswagen as tenth place for the Swede would give him pole position for the reversed-grid second race of the weekend.

Elsewhere, Nicky Catsburg took a heavy hit into the barriers on entry to the Dottinger Hohe due to a left-front puncture. He could therefore do nothing but watch from the pit lane as everyone attempted to improve their lap times, and eventually dropped to 23rd place after previously running strongly.

It was a terrible qualifying session for two of the top four contenders in the points standings too. Thed Bjork could drag his Lynk & Co no higher than 19th, while Nestor Girolami languishes in 24th, albeit with a mechanical fault to attribute causality to.

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