Andreas Backman claimed pole position for the first time in his TCR Europe Series career, with a stunning lap time of 01:30.017 in qualifying.
As ever, qualifying would be split into two knock-out rounds. So, in Q1, the main priority would simply be to make it into the top twelve. From there, those who progress into Q2 would battle for pole position.
Gilles Magnus was the first driver to go below the 01:31.000 barrier, but was then beaten a lap later by Tom Coronel as the lap times began to fall.
Martin Ryba then went off into the gravel at Turn 7, but luckily was able to drag his car out under its own steam, thus avoiding the need for yellow or red flags.
With twelve minutes to go, Ryba’s team-mate Daniel Lloyd went fastest of all, making it Lloyd and Coronel as the top two drivers on the time sheets – a familiar sight from the earlier practice session.
It wouldn’t last for long though, as Santiago Urrutia then beat Lloyd’s time by a mere one thousandth of a second. Gilles Magnus followed suit, and went on to return his own Audi to the top of the session a few minutes later.
Daniel Lloyd went quickest once more with around 5 minutes left of the first knock-out round, before Gianni Morbidelli then came out of nowhere in the heavy Volkswagen to go even faster still.
Morbidelli’s time at the top would last for just a few seconds though, as Andreas Backman dethroned the Italian from first place.
And indeed, the Backman siblings would top and tail the all-important top twelve at the end of Q1, with Andreas remaining on top and Jessica just about squeezing into Q2 after finishing twelfth. Mat’o Homola was the first driver to be knocked out in 13th, while the pole-position winner from last time out in Austria, Luca Filippi, was also eliminated in 14th.
As the first lap times came in during Q2, Andreas Backman had continued his charge from Q1 and established himself as the early pace-setter.
With the session winding down, everyone had just enough time to attempt one more lap. Backman shaved yet more fractions off of his fastest time, while Dan Lloyd was demoted from second place by both Santiago Urrutia and Nelson Panciatici who went on a late charge.
Lloyd still had time to respond though, and he did just that. His final lap time was good enough to reclaim both positions, restoring him to second place.
Alex Morgan stopped out on circuit, but by finishing in tenth overall, the Welshman will start the reversed-grid second race from pole position on Sunday. Josh Files’ ninth place in qualifying means that it’ll be an all-British front row on that occasion.
But for Race One which is set to get underway later this afternoon, Andreas Backman will start from pole position for the first time in his TCR Europe Series career. The Swede was untouchable in qualifying, and he’ll be joined on the front row of the grid by Daniel Lloyd.
Qualifying Result – Top Ten: