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Qualifying report
WTCR Vallelunga

WTCR Vallelunga: Girolami snatches pole position from Azcona

Nestor Girolami knocked World Touring Car Cup leader Mikel Azcona from pole position for the first race in Vallelunga with the fastest lap of the weekend in the Q3 shootout.

Nestor Girolami, ALL-INKL.COM Munnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R TCR

The effort earns Girolami a maximum qualifying score of 10 points in his battle to remain in contention for the title, but earned a rebuke from his Munnich Motorsport team on the radio for being “too fast” – a reference to the knock-on effect his speed is likely to have on Balance of Performance compensation weight at future rounds.

Girolami set the only sub-1m15s lap of the weekend, a 1m14.811s, 0.241s faster than Azcona’s shootout effort.

Azcona’s BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse team-mate Norbert Michelisz was third fastest, ahead of the Comtoyou Audi of Nathanael Berthon and Girolami’s Honda team-mate Esteban Guerrieri.

The weekend has proven to be a tough one so far for the Cyan Lynk & Cos. In the first free practice session Yvan Muller crashed at the fast Turn 2 after an apparent Goodyear tyre delamination and was fortunate the gravel trap slowed him from what could have been a hard impact with the barrier.

The Lynk & Cos, which are running as by far the heaviest of the five makes on the WTCR grid, are struggling to complete a race distance on the tyre. Not one of the five cars managed to do so in testing on Friday or in the pair of free practice sessions.

Ehrlacher, who was forced to cede to a team order in favour of title rival Santi Urrutia in the previous round in Vila Real, will start the partially reversed-grid second race in Vallelunga from pole position. The Frenchman was 10th in the Q2 session to earn the top spot.

Mikel Azcona, BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse, Hyundai Elantra N TCR

Mikel Azcona, BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse, Hyundai Elantra N TCR

Photo by: WTCR

Urrutia was ninth fastest, which means he will start alongside Ehrlacher on the race-two front row, to set up a potentially intriguing Cyan team orders conundrum for the second meeting in succession.

Muller was forced to back off in Q1 to ensure a struggling Ehrlacher could progress to Q2. He will start the two races in 13th, with Vila Real race winner Rob Huff – fourth in the points coming into the weekend – only 14th after a disappointing performance in his lone Zengo Motorsport Cupra Leon. His team-mate Daniel Nagy has been forced to miss Vallelunga because of a broken finger sustained in his race two accident in Portugal.

Azcona’s second place in qualifying extends his points lead over Urrutia to 24 ahead of the two races on Sunday.

“The car is very good and over one lap we are performing really well,” said Girolami. “In the races we are suffering with the heat. We are slowing down too much, so we have to take the points in qualifying.

“I had nothing left! We knew at this track we were so good. We have had two days of testing and this work has paid off. We know this is the last opportunity we have to reduce the gap to Azcona, otherwise for us it’s the finish of the championship because we have a gap of 40 points and we need to somehow reduce that.

“A good first step today and tomorrow we have two long races ahead.”

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