WTCR Free Practice 2 flash: Catsburg flies high
Nicky Catsburg continued where his fellow Hyundai-powered driver Norbert Michelisz left off by going quickest in Free Practice 2 at WTCR Race of Slovakia.
The Dutchman, in a BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team i30 N TCR, moved to the top of the order with a little more than half of the 30-minute session remaining just as a few rain drops appeared on his windscreen. And he went quicker still with five minutes left, his 2m10.373s proving the time to beat in the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO.
“I was quick because I had the new tyres and some of the drivers used the tyres in FP1,” Catsburg explained. ” One of the main differences is that we finally solved an ongoing problem with the car, some vibrations, we’ve had pretty much since Marrakech. I’m happy now and finally able to do a result. It’s not qualifying yet but this is a good boost for qualifying. Norbi was super-fast in FP1 and that was the most impressive lap of the weekend so far and I expect him to be really quick in qualifying. It seems the weight break we have has helped a little bit but let’s wait until qualifying.
“My lap was fine but it’s always a bit of a difficult picture in practice because you don’t know who uses what tyres and when. It’s obviously good to be on the top end of the list rather than the lower end but it doesn’t change so much although the times are good compared to last year. There’s more to come.”
Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing’s Tom Coronel made it an all-Dutch top two having gone third fastest in Free Practice 1. Aurélien Panis completed a strong start to the event for the Belgium-based team in third with Kevin Ceccon (Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR) fourth for Team Mulsanne.
Frédéric Vervisch was fifth, the Belgian complaining of understeer and a lack of front-end grip in his Comtoyou Team Audi Sport RS 3 LMS over team radio broadcast live on official FIA WTCR / OSCARO Facebook page.
Catsburg’s team-mate Augusto Farfus showed a strong upturn of pace in sixth with Jean-Karl Vernay, Ma Qinghua, Free Practice 1 pacesetter Norbert Michelisz and Esteban Guerrieri completing the top 10. Argentine Guerrieri spun his ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR at the final turn on his last lap in his bid to improve his pace.
Gabriele Tarquini, the inaugural WTCR / OSCARO title winner, was P11 followed by PWR Racing CUPRA pair Mikel Azcona and Daniel Haglöf. ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport’s current title leader Néstor Girolami was P14 with Benjamin Leuchter the leading Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR racer in P15.
Yvan Muller was the quickest of the Lynk & Co 03 TCR quartet in P16, his Cyan Racing team admitting its decision not to test at the Slovakia Ring pre-season had hampered the performance of the new-for-2019 Geely Group Motorsport-developed cars. Muller’s team-mate Thed Björk was down in P18, spending time in the pits while his mechanics worked on repairing a broken front-right damper. Andy Priaulx was P25 following a trip through a gravel trip in his Lynk & Co.
Wildcard Luca Engslter was P19 on his WTCR / OSCARO debut and his first appearance at the Slovakia Ring.
First Qualifying is next at 13h45 local time.