Slovakia WTCR: Catsburg heads Hyundai one-two in first qualifying

BRC Racing's Nicky Catsburg snatched pole position for Sunday's opening World Touring Car Cup race at the Slovakia Ring, leading a Hyundai one-two ahead of Norbert Michelisz

Slovakia WTCR: Catsburg heads Hyundai one-two in first qualifying

Catsburg, who topped second practice earlier on Friday, overpowered fellow Hyundai i30 N driver Michelisz in the second half of a 30-minute session held under dark skies.

Spots of rain that appeared at the start of FP2 had threatened to return, leading to a rush of cars venturing out on track to set an early time in preparation for a potential downpour, which ultimately never came.

BRC Hyundai driver Michelisz, who went quickest in FP1, was the first man to dip into the 2m09s bracket on his first lap, which was more than six tenths quicker than reigning champion Gabriele Tarquini in the sister BRC i30 N.

The Hyundai drivers all fought over track position in the second half of the session in a bid to utilise the advantage of a slipstream and, although Catsburg led the train ahead of Michelisz and Tarquini, he still ended up with the quickest time of 2m09.498s, going 0.028 seconds faster than the chasing Michelisz.

"It took me a couple of tries to finally nail it, and it worked out," said Catsburg.

"I'm mega happy, because I struggled in the first two events. Wet or dry, we should be fine."

Behind the Hyundai pair, Team Mulsanne's Ma Qing Hua finished third on a strong Friday for the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce drivers, team-mate Kevin Ceccon ending the session sixth.

PWR Racing enjoyed a strong qualifying session with Daniel Haglof fourth ahead of the Comtoyou Cupra of Tom Coronel, who had also been in the top five in the day's two practice sessions.

WRT's Jean-Karl Vernay was best of the Audi drivers in seventh ahead of the top Honda of Esteban Guerrieri (Munnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R), while Frederic Vervisch (Comtoyou Audi) and Mehdi Bennani (Sebastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen Golf) rounded out the top 10.

Championship leader Nestor Girolami was only 11th in the second Munnich Motorsport Honda, while Tarquini failed to improve and slipped to 13th place.

Despite losing weight for the Slovakia weekend, the four Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 03s struggled in both practice sessions, with Thed Bjork suffering a minor moment towards the end of the second session after damper issues.

Best of the Lynk & Co 03 quartet in qualifying was Yvan Muller in 18th place, while Bjork was 25th and three-time World Touring Car champion Andy Priaulx was 27th and last overall.

Qualifying result

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Nicky Catsburg BRC Racing Team Hyundai 2m09.498s
2 Norbert Michelisz BRC Squadra Corse Hyundai 0.028s
3 Ma Qinghua Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo 0.409s
4 Daniel Haglof PWR Racing Cupra 0.610s
5 Tom Coronel Comtoyou Cupra Cupra 0.656s
6 Kevin Ceccon Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo 0.841s
7 Jean-Karl Vernay WRT Audi 0.876s
8 Esteban Guerrieri Munnich Motorsport Honda 0.884s
9 Frederic Vervisch Comtoyou Audi Audi 0.905s
10 Mehdi Bennani SLR VW Motorsport Volkswagen 0.932s
11 Nestor Girolami Munnich Motorsport Honda 0.997s
12 Aurelien Panis Comtoyou Cupra Cupra 1.013s
13 Gabriele Tarquini BRC Squadra Corse Hyundai 1.019s
14 Mikel Azcona PWR Racing Cupra 1.046s
15 Benjamin Leuchter SLR Volkswagen Volkswagen 1.189s
16 Niels Langeveld Comtoyou Audi Audi 1.248s
17 Gordon Shedden WRT Audi 1.328s
18 Yvan Muller Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 1.446s
19 Augusto Farfus BRC Racing Team Hyundai 1.480s
20 Luca Engstler Team Engstler Hyundai 1.507s
21 Tiago Monteiro KCMG Honda 1.583s
22 Johan Kristoffersson SLR Volkswagen Volkswagen 1.714s
23 Attila Tassi KCMG Honda 1.809s
24 Rob Huff SLR VW Motorsport Volkswagen 1.847s
25 Thed Bjork Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 1.865s
26 Yann Ehrlacher Cyan Performance Lynk & Co 1.969s
27 Andy Priaulx Cyan Performance Lynk & Co 2.199s


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Catsburg takes WTCR Slovakia main race pole for BRC Racing

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