WTCR Free Practice 1 flash: Coronel bounces back from puncture to go fastest
Tom Coronel bounced back from a puncture early in Free Practice 1 at WTCR Race of Slovakia to set the fastest time as the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO action kicked off at the Slovakia Ring this afternoon.
The Dutchman was forced up an escape road in his Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda Civic Type R TCR when his front-left tyre “exploded”. But he gave some indication that he could be a strong contender this weekend with a fast lap towards the end of the 30-minute session on a new set of Yokohamas.
“This gives hope,” said Coronel, who has endured a difficult WTCR OSCARO season so far. “These should be good conditions for us at this track. I was quite surprised, but it’s still strange. At the beginning I didn’t understand what was going on, it is very slippery and a I have a lot of understeer on the infield which is a worry. Also I had the flat tyre, which exploded. It’s positive to be at the front rather than the back, but there’s still a lot of work to do. I need to bring a trophy home.”
Frédéric Vervisch was another to improve his time late in the session and was briefly on top before Coronel bumped him back to P2. The Audi Sport Team Comtoyou Audi RS 3 LMS was just 0.152s down on the Honda.
Aurélien Comte continued to show DG Sport Compétition is making progress with its PEUGEOT 308TCR by setting the third fastest time, ahead of Norbert Michelisz, who was fastest for most of the session in his BRC Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR.
Comte’s team-mate and local hero Mato Homola was P5 following his breakthrough victory at the last round in Vila Real, giving him hope that he will carry that race-winning form to his 5.922km home circuit this weekend.
Pepe Oriola was P7 for Team OSCARO by Campos Racing in his Cupra TCR, ahead of ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport’s Yann Ehrlacher, WTCR points leader Yvan Muller in his YMR Hyundai, Gabriele Tarquini and Vila Real Race 3 winner Thed Björk.
John Filippi was next for Team OSCARO by Campos Racing, ahead of ‘wildcard’ entry Petr Fulín. The 2017 FIA European Touring Car Cup champion, from the neighbouring Czech Republic, briefly topped the times in his Fullin Race Academy Cupra TCR and is looking forward to his WTCR race debut this weekend.
Team Mulsanne’s new driver Kevin Ceccon, who has replaced Gianni Morbidelli, had a rocky start to his WTCR debut. The former single-seater racer ran wide out of a fast right-hander in his Alfa Romeo Guilietta TCR and survived a bumpy ride across a gravel trap and the grass. He completed the session in P17, just two places behind team-mate Fabrizio Giovanardi.
The other ‘wildcard’ entry for this weekend, Andrej Studenic, was P26 in his Brutal Fish Racing Team Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR. Meanwhile, the Sébastien Loeb Racing Golfs of Rob Huff and Mehdi Bennani were P23 and P25 respectively in their first appearances since their huge Vila Real accident. The pair are driving new cars prepared for this weekend.
The second free practice session at WTCR Race of Slovakia takes place at 15h50 local time.