WTCR Free Practice 1 flash: Home hero Berthon best in Alsace GrandEst
Nathanaël Berthon and Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport set the pace in the opening free practice sesson at Circuit l’Anneau du Rhin as WTCR Race of Alsace GrandEst officially began this morning.
The Frenchman, competing on home soil this weekend, went fastest with a time of 1m26.566s with four of the 45 scheduled minutes remaining aboard his Audi RS 3 LMS.
His position at the top of the timesheets was then secured when team-mate Tom Coronel slid into the gravel one minute later, causing a red flag and an early end to the session.
“I don’t know if everybody pushed flat-out in that session, but it was a good lap,” Berthon said.
“It’s not easy to put everything together here, but we’re working in a good direction and we’re getting faster and faster. We have work to do for FP2, but it’s a good start.”
The sister Comtoyou Team Audi Sport cars were quickest out of the blocks with Mehdi Bennani and Gilles Magnus on top initially, but they were dethroned by BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse’s Norbert Michelisz inside the first 10 minutes.
Hungarian Michelisz’s mark remained unbeaten until Berthon toppled the 2019 King of WTCR by just 0.156s in the closing moments.
Goodyear #FollowTheLeader Mikel Azcona made it two Hyundais in the top three, but suffered a trip through the gravel near mid-distance and reported that his car had cut out just beforehand.
Magnus – who suffered a trip down the escape road just before the session was red-flagged for the first time to allow Turns 1-3 to be cleaned – was fourth with Attila Tassi – another to suffer a brief off – the quickest of the Honda drivers for LIQUI MOLY Team Engstler.
Bennani was sixth, just 0.3s off the pace while Coronel, Zengő Motorsport’s Rob Huff and ALL-INKL.COM Munnich Motorsport Honda drivers Néstor Girolami and Esteban Guerrieri completed the top 10.
Free Practice 2 is up next for the WTCR stars and their cars with the action due to begin at 12h30 CET.