Néstor Girolami will start this afternoon’s first WTCR race at the Hungaroring from pole position after the Honda driver set the quickest time in the thirty-minute Qualifying 1 session. After heavy overnight rain, the track had steadily dried out throughout the morning and Girolami snatched pole away from Yvan Muller in the closing stages of the session.
The first driver to set a competitive time was Jean-Karl Vernay with a lap of 1:53.585, but this was soon bettered by both Gabriele Tarquini (1:53.298) and then Aurélien Panis (1:53.182). The three Volkswagen Golf GTI cars of Mehdi Bennani, Rob Huff and Johan Kristofferson then went P3, P4 and P5, but Vernay struck back with a lap of 1:53.280 before Muller went fastest, being the first driver to break the 1:53 barrier with a time of 1:52.757.
Halfway through the session, six different car brands occupied the top six positions, with Girolami’s Honda (1:52.902) edging into P2 ahead of the CUPRA of Panis. Thed Björk also beat Panis’ time, going P3 with a lap of 1:53.065, before Yann Ehrlacher clocked 1:53.042 to make it three Lynk & Co 03 cars in the top four places. Behind the quartet, Esteban Guerrieri in another Honda jumped to P5 with a lap of 1:53.082 while Kristofferson was the best of the Volkswagen drivers in sixth.
With around than two minutes of the session remaining, Girolami snatched provisional pole position away from Muller with a 1:52.586. Panis then improved to P3 with a 1:52.955, only to see third place snatched away again within moments as Guerrieri posted a time of 1:52.893. That’s how it remained until the chequered flag, with the top 18 cars covered by less than a second.
A large number of drivers had lap times disallowed for infringing track limits at Turns 4, 5 and 11, including Ehrlacher and Andy Priaulx on their first flying laps. Priaulx later received the black and white flag for repeated infringements, as did Kevin Ceccon in the Alfa Romeo.
Race 1 will start at 15:15 local time.
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