Daniel Lloyd has set the pace in both of the TCR Europe practice sessions at Austria’s Red Bull Ring, leaving him in good shape ahead of qualifying.
Lloyd set his best lap time of 01:36.755 in the first of the two sessions, during which his nearest challenger was the privateer Cupra entry of Stian Paulsen. The rapid Norwegian underdog was just 0.189 seconds slower in the first outing, but black flags for breaching track limits halted his progress in Practice Two.
Fresh from triumphing yet again in the TCR Asia Series last week, Luca Engstler was Hyundai’s top performer here too, having returned to European shores. As to be expected nowadays, the German youngster was ever-present towards the top of the time sheets, finishing as the third fastest driver in both sessions.
Gianni Morbidelli also showed consistent pace on Friday. The Italian veteran has endured a tough season so far with the WestCoast Racing Volkswagen team, so two top five results in practice will provide timely encouragement going into the rest of the weekend.
In general, the Volkswagen Group cars appear to be strong packages at this event. In addition to Paulsen’s aforementioned pace, Davit Kajaia has been in contention with the sixth and fifth fastest lap times in the two practice outings respectively.
Having swapped to the Cupra from the less-developed Renault Megane for this weekend, Alex Morgan also enjoyed the best pace he’s shown all season, finishing in sixth in Practice Two.
As for Audi, Gilles Magnus was the marque’s top representative. The young Belgian outlined his clear potential once again by going second fastest in Practice Two, producing a lap time just three tenths of a second down on Lloyd’s best.
Arguably the biggest sub-plot of practice though, was the downfall of Peugeot. Having been handed a 70kg success ballast weight increase, all of the 308 TCR competitors struggled for any kind of pace. Championship points leader, Julien Briche, could only go 23rd fastest in Practice One and 24th in Practice Two.