For the second time this season, Mat’o Homola and his DG Sport Compétition Opel Astra emerged as the fastest combination in the Qualifying session. However, unlike in Bahrain where he was demoted by a grid penalty, the young Slovak will start from pole position for tomorrow’s Race 1.
Qualifying confirmed that the gaps in lap times at the Salzburgring are the smallest and positions were disputed by thousandths of a second. Homola’s fastest lap in Q2 of 1:25.481 beat Dušan Borković’s 1:25.552 by 71 thousandths, while Pepe Oriola qualified in third, a further six thousandths adrift.
Attila Tassi ranked fourth, a result that couldn’t even have been hoped for 24 hours earlier, after his massive shunt in testing. Local driver and TCR newcomer Thomas Jäger claimed a brilliant fifth position in the Kissling Motorsport Opel Astra, beating International Touring Car top guns such as James Nash, Rob Huff, Stefano Comini, Gianni Morbidelli and Roberto Colciago.
The latter will start Race 2 from pole position on the top-ten reverse grid.
The most disappointed driver today was Davit Kajaia, who set the fastest lap in Q1, but had it disallowed by the Stewards for improving under yellow flags.
The first race will start tomorrow at 13:00 local time (live streaming at www.tcr-series.comand www.tcr-series.tv).
Q1: Kajaia’s fastest lap disallowed
There was a lot of position-swapping during the first twenty minutes of Qualifying, with no fewer than seven drivers taking turns to top the time sheet.
Homola set the first significant laps of 1:26.737 and 1:26.204, but then the leadership moved to Comini (1:26.0369) and then to Jäger (1:26.011), Daniel Lloyd (1:25.984) and Colciago (1:25.913).
With only 30 seconds left on the clock, Kajaia posted an impressive 1:25.864 that he achieved by improving his sector 2 time while that was under yellow flag due to Stian Paulsen’s car stranded in the gravel trap at Turn 5. This meant that the Stewards disallowed Kajaia’s time, which dropped him to 14th and out of Q2.
The battle then raged for the other positions, with Rob Huff, Frédéric Vervisch and Gianni Morbidelli who were all able to make the cut at the last gasp and kick out the championship leader Jean-Karl Vernay, who dropped to 13th.
The following drivers went through to Q2: Colciago, Lloyd, Tassi, Jäger, Comini, Borković, Huff, Homola, Oriola, Vervisch, Nash and Morbidelli.
Q2: Homola steals pole from Borković
Borković began at a stunning pace, posting a provisional fastest time of 1:25.689 and nearly matching it on the following lap (1:25.698).
Tassi (1:25.636) and then Homola (1:25.629) dropped the Serbian to third, but Borković jumped on top again with a lap of 1:25.558.
However, Homola had the last word and settled the matter with the pole position time of 1:25.481.
When the chequered flag was waved, Oriola was clocked at 1:25.558 that gave him the third place, dropping Tassi to fourth.
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