WTCR Free Practice 1 flash: Urrutia hits the top

2022-05-07T15:45:48+02:00May 7th, 2022|2022, WTCR Race of France 2022|

Santiago Urrutia set a hot pace in the first free practice session of 2022 at WTCR Clean Fuels for All Race of France as the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup field relished its first chance to acclimatise to the Circuit de Pau-Ville.

Yann Erhlacher, Mikel Azcona and Esteban Guerrieri all spent time at the top during the 45-minute session. But it was Uruttia’s Cyan Performance Lynk & Co 03 TCR that set the pace in the final moments with a time of 1m20.160s around the 2.760-kilometre street track, an impressive 0.489s quicker than King of WTCR Ehrlacher.

“It was good,” said Goodyear-equipped Urrutia. “I was just learning the circuit because it’s my first time here on this street circuit and it’s the start of the season. I said to my engineer I need to go out and push as hard as I can to learn the circuit and that’s what I did. Finally I got a good lap. But it’s only free practice and now we must look at the data.

“The track seems very difficult and if you don’t get it right you are close to the walls. When we did a track walk it didn’t look that quick but when you are driving it, it is quick. It’s bumpy as well in the first chicane. But I’m happy, obviously.”

Behind the two Lynk & Cos, Néstor Girolami ended up third fastest in his ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic TCR, ahead of French hero Yvan Muller in fourth. Norbert Michelisz was next in his BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR, ahead of new team-mate Azcona.

Guerrieri’s Honda was seventh and Thed Björk eighth, despite the Swede losing some time in the session with a broken driveshaft after hitting a kerb in his Lynk & Co. Attila Tassi in his Liqui Moly Team Engstler Honda was next, while Ma Quing Hua rounded out the top 10 in his first appearance for Cyan Performance Lynk & Co on his return to the WTCR after two years away.

Nathanaël Berthon was the best of the Audi RS3 LMS drivers in his Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport entry in P11, ahead of Gilles Magnus. Rob Huff was in P13 in his Zengő Motorsport Cupra Leon Competición, one place ahead of team-mate Dániel Nagy. Wildcard entry and Pau resident Éric Cayrolle was P18 in his Comtoyou Team Audi Sport RS3 LMS.

Free Practice 2 at WTCR Clean Fuels for All Race of France is due to take place at 14h50 local time.