*Honda-powered Argentine leaves it late to claim top spot in Germany qualifying *Ehrlacher still Goodyear #FollowTheLeader with second best time for Cyan Racing Lynk & Co *Five customer racing brands in the top 10 at the Nürburgring Nordschleife *Berthon secures reverse-grid pole for Race 2 in Comtoyou Audi
Néstor Girolami closed the WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup points gap to Goodyear #FollowTheLeader Yann Ehrlacher by topping the twilight qualifying action at WTCR Race of Germany, in a 40-minute session that ended with a last-ditch DHL Pole Position at the Nürburgring Nordschleife.
Girolami slashed Ehrlacher’s advantage to just five points in his ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR after a final lap charge that pushed the Argentine to the top of the times and put him on the DHL Pole Position for Race 2. His time of 8m51.802s, a new WTCR qualifying lap record, over the 25.378-kilometre tour was 1.163s faster than Ehrlacher’s best, after the Frenchman missed out on a final attempt by failing to pass the start line before the chequered flag waved.
“That was one of the craziest things I have ever done in my life,” said Girolami after his stunning final lap in the fading sunshine. “The target was to score some points, but I felt so confident in the car I had to go for it and take some risks. The guys in the team deserve it. It was really getting dark and some parts of the circuit were difficult to see, missing the apex on some of the corners.”
Ehrlacher’s first lap in his Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 03 TCR was still good enough to be second fastest, in a session that was affected by the extended recovery time for Jack Young’s Vuković Motorsport Renault Mégane RS TCR, which was stuck in the gravel at the hairpin on the Grand Prix circuit loop.
Attila Tassi, who had topped both free practice sessions, was third fastest in his ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport Honda, ahead of Thed Björk’s Lynk & Co and WTCR Trophy contender Tom Coronel in his Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS 3 LMS. Mikel Azcona managed an impressive sixth fastest time in Zengő Motorsport’s new CUPRA Leon Competición.
Santiago Urrutia recovered from his crash in the second free practice session to reward his Cyan Performance team with the seventh fastest time, ahead of Esteban Guerrieri’s ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda and Jean-Karl Vernay’s Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR by Romeo Ferraris.
Nathanaël Berthon was P10 in his Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport entry, landing him the DHL Pole Position for the reverse-grid Race 1.
Yvan Muller was P11 in his Lynk & Co ahead of Tiago Monteiro’s Honda, Gábor Kismarty-Lechner’s CUPRA and WTCR Rookie Driver contender Gilles Magnus, whose session was ruined by a mechanical problem on his Comtoyou Racing Audi RS 3 LMS. Young was classified in P15.
Race 1 of WTCR Race of Germany takes place on Friday at 16h40 local time.
TOP THREE DRIVER QUOTES
Néstor Girolami (ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport), Honda Civic Type R TCR: DHL Pole Position (8m51.802s): “I really enjoyed that lap. It was one of the craziest things I’ve done in my entire life. I would say driving the Nordschleife without any lights, and it’s almost night, is really demanding. Somehow, I managed to do my best lap at the end, but if I had caused a red flag or some incident, they would have removed my best lap and I would have finished with a bad result. But I took the risk, it was controllable all the lap around and thanks to Esteban who gave me the tow at the end and allowed me to improve by one second. The pressure was there. If I wanted the pole, I had to take the risk and I knew I had something in the pocket from the first outing. The first lap was quite an improvement, so on the second lap I took risks and it paid off. Tomorrow we have the reverse grid, so we will start P10. Even with space between Race 1 and Race 2 we don’t want to take a lot of risks, just score some points and finish the race with the car in one piece. The main race for us is on Saturday and is the race we want to finish high. The car is performing well so I am confident for both races.”
Yann Ehrlacher (Cyan Racing Lynk & Co), Lynk & Co 03 TCR: Second position (8m52.965s): “I’m really happy with the result. The team picture is a little bit difficult because there is a car out of the top 10 and that is not what we wanted. Of course, I am chasing this pole now, twice P2. I would say I was missing a tow, going one and half seconds quicker than I did was really risky and if you cause a red or yellow flag you lose a lap, so we went for the safe choice. It was not a mistake from my side or the team’s side. It was deliberate. We are happy with the result and looking forward to the races.”
Attila Tasssi (ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport), Honda Civic Type R TCR: Third position (8m54.091s): “m happy I finished in P3 in the qualifying, but seeing that my team-mate was 2.5s faster I’m not so happy. Then it seems there was still more time in my lap, even though I felt I was at the maximum. I made small mistakes and that’s the 2.5s, but it’s still a lot in my opinion. I can’t be 100 per cent happy, but of course it’s good to be here and P3 in qualifying. But we need to work a lot during the night.”