Norbert Michelisz’s pole position at the Hungaroring was eagerly anticipated, especially since he had been fastest in both the Free Practice sessions.
Unsurprisingly, Michelisz did not let his fans down. After being stripped of the fastest lap in Q1 and finishing behind Jean-Karl Vernay, Hungary’s sports hero responded by setting a new lap record for the TCR cars of 1:52.740.
For a brief moment there was an all-M1RA front row for Race 1, as Attila Tassi had posted a provisional second fastest lap behind his ‘boss’, but Vernay spoiled the party with a lap of 1:53.354.
Mat’o Homola claimed another excellent qualifying result, placing his Opel Astra fourth, ahead of Pepe Oriola’s SEAT and Roberto Colciago in the third M1RA Honda. Rob Huff and a brilliant Stian Paulsen ranked seventh and eighth, while Daniel Lloyd had his ninth fastest lap disallowed for not respecting the track limits.
This promoted the WestCoast Racing duo of Gianni Morbidelli and Giacomo Altoè to ninth and tenth, which means that they will fill the front row on the top-ten reverse grid for Race 2.
Today’s Qualifying was extremely disappointing for the Audi and Alfa Romeo drivers, as none of them managed to even make the cut for Q2.
After a frustrating start in this morning’s Practice 2, Ferenc Ficza completed his first laps in the brand new Zengő Motorsport KIA cee’d. It was, however, just a shake down for the Korean car that has still to show its potential.
The first race will start tomorrow at 09:10 local time (live streaming at www.tcr-series.com and www.tcr-series.tv).
Qualifying 1: Vernay beats Michelisz
Vernay was the very first driver who was able to be faster than Michelisz since TCR action began at the Hungaroring. The Frenchman and his Volkswagen Golf posted a fastest lap of 1:53.030 in the dying moments of Q1. On his last lap, Michelisz improved as well, but not enough; he settled into second position with a lap of 1:53.209.
The Hungarian actually posted the fastest lap (1:52.847), however it was disallowed for exceeding track limits. A number of other drivers were hit by the same penalty for the same infringement.
Tassi was third with a lap of 1:53.067 that had provisionally placed him on top of the time sheet after Michelisz’ penalty and before Vernay’s final effort.
Møller and Paulsen did a great job, advancing to Q2 for the first time, while Vesnić was soon sidelined by a technical problem.
Among the top drivers who did not make the cut were Nash (13th), Vervisch (14th), Kajaia (16th), the points leader Comini (17th) and Borković (18th), meaning that there were no Audi, nor Alfa Romeo cars in Q2.
The following drivers went through: Vernay, Michelisz, Tassi, Oriola, Altoè, Lloyd, Homola, Huff, Møller, Colciago, Morbidelli and Paulsen.
Qualifying 2: Michelisz set pole position
Homola was the fastest after the first flying laps, with a time of 1:53.495. However the ten-minute segment was red-flagged around halfway, when Møller made a mistake while braking into Turn 1 and crashed into the barriers.
When action resumed, less than five minutes were left on the clock, meaning that the drivers had the possibility to complete only two timed laps.
Michelisz was immediately able to post a time of 1:52.740 that gave him pole position; on his last lap Tassi was clocked at 1:53.406 and provisionally climbed to second, but Vernay improved to 1:53.364 and demoted the young Hungarian to third.