Yann Ehrlacher and Kobe Pauwels fastest in Spa Qualifying

Yann Ehrlacher and Kobe Pauwels fastest in Spa Qualifying

27 May 2023

Yann Ehrlacher set the fastest time in the two-stage Qualifying session for Kumho TCR World Tour and TCR Europe at Spa-Francorchamps, beating his teammate Ma Qing Hua by just over three-tenths of a second. Another TCR World Tour driver, Néstor Girolami was third fastest while the best of the TCR Europe contenders was Kobe Pauwels who was fourth overall. 

In Q1, the first driver to set a competitive time was Tom Coronel with a lap of 2:30.028, ahead of Ehrlacher (2:30.154), Thed Björk (2:30.444) and John Filippi (2:30.694). Filippi improved on his next lap with a 2:30.606, but both Santiago Urrutia (2:30.259) and Ma Qing Hua (2:30.484) went faster than him, although Ma’s lap would be deleted for infringing track limits. After fitting fresh tyres around halfway through the twenty-minute part of the session, most drivers had enough time for two more flying laps. Norbert Michelisz and his teammate Mikel Azcona worked together to give each other an aerodynamic tow, with Azcona moving up to P9 with a 2:31.071 while Michelisz was in P11 with a best lap of 2:31.411. Filippi, meanwhile, had gone fastest with a lap of 2:29.985.

Going through to Q2 were Filippi, Coronel, Ehrlacher, Ma Qing Hua, Urrutia, Björk, Girolami, Pauwels, Azcona, Rob Huff, Michelisz and Felipe Fernández.

In the second part of Qualifying, Pauwels set a provisional fastest lap time of 2:30.612. Most of the twelve drivers elected to wait until half of the ten-minute leg had elapsed before heading out of the pits. Coronel looked to be on course to go fastest on his first flying lap, but encountered traffic through the last few corners and so crossed the line in P2 behind Pauwels with a time of 2:31.327. Coronel then improved slightly on his next lap, but he made slight contact with Azcona at Les Combes, which put paid to any chance the Dutch driver had of grabbing P1. With less than a minute left on the clock, Ehrlacher went fastest with a 2:29.470 and Girolami went P2 with a 2:29.977. Rob Huff was P4 ahead of Coronel (2:30.865) before Ma Qing Hua went P2 behind his teammate Ehrlacher with a 2:29.785 just after the chequered flag signalled the end of the session.

After the session, the Steward imposed on Azcona a drop of three positions on the grid for Race 1, for the contact with Coronel, meaning that he will be demoted from 11th to 14th.

The grid for Race 1 will therefore have two Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 03 cars on the front row, with Girolami and Pauwels on Row 2. Filippi set the tenth fastest time of 2:32.515 and so will start the reversed-grid race 2 from pole with Felipe Fernández alongside him, making it an all-Audi front row.

Race 1 is due to start at 15:30 local time/CEST, with live streaming on tcr-series.tv and YouTube.


Spa-Francorchamps – Qualifying overall

1. Yann Ehrlacher (Cyan Racing, Lynk & Co 03), 2:29.470

2. Ma Qing Hua (Cyan Racing, Lynk & Co 03), 2:29.785

3. Néstor Girolami (ALM Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R FL5), 2:29.977


Spa-Francorchamps – Qualifying TCR Europe

1. Kobe Pauwels (Comtoyou Racing, Audi RS 3 LMS), 2:30.612

2. Tom Coronel (Comtoyou Racing, Audi RS 3 LMS), 2:31.015

3. Felipe Fernández (RC2 Racing Team, Audi RS 3 LMS), 2:32.361


Championship points – TCR World Tour

1. N. Michelisz, 57 pts; 2. M. Azcona, 55; 3. F. Vervisch 48 


Championship points – TCR Europe

1. T. Coronel, 148 pts; 2. J. Filippi, 132; 3. K. Pauwels, 119 


Picture: WSC Group


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