WTCR Free Practice 2 flash: Ehrlacher heads Oriola in tight session
Yann Ehrlacher headed the final practice session before qualifying at WTCR Race of Slovakia as five car brands filled the top six in the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO at the Slovakia Ring on Friday afternoon.
“I’m still learning the track because it is my first time here,” said Ehrlacher. “It’s a very nice track. It appears to the fit the Hondas not badly, but it is only free practice 2. It is crazy tight in the top 10.
“It’s good for everybody, even if it is free practice and for my confidence as well,” he added. “Now we will still keep working because we have much to do. Qualifying will be much less hot, which will affect the balance, so we will have to think about that.”
The ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport driver set his benchmark with just five of the session’s 30 minutes left. But Pepe Oriola left it even later to jump up to P2 in his Team OSCARO by Campos Racing Cupra TCR, the Spaniard setting a time just 0.040s slower around the 5.922km circuit.
Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team’s Jean-Karl Vernay ended up in P3 after his Audi RS 3 LMS had been fastest for most of the session. He headed the other ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR of Esteban Guerrieri, with DG Sport Compétition’s PEUGEOT 308TCR driven by Aurélien Comte and Fabrizio Giovanardi’s Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR completing the mix of manufacturers in the top six.
Aurélien Panis was P7 in his Comtoyou Racing Audi, with BRC Racing Team’s Gabriele Tarquini the first of the Hyundai i30 N TCRs in P8. Nathanaël Berthon’s Audi and John Filippi’s Cupra TCR were next, with just 0.234s separating the top 10.
The YMR Hyundais of WTCR points leader Yvan Muller and Thed Björk were only P15 and P17 respectively, after a tough start to the weekend. Vila Real Race 3 winner Björk will also be penalised to start Race 1 tomorrow from the back of the grid, after his team was forced to change his engine before this weekend.
Tom Coronel, who was fastest in FP1, was only P19 this time after suffering a second front-left puncture. His Boutsen Ginion Racing team-mate Benjamin Lessennes also suffered a second puncture in his Honda, indicating a problem the team will be working to get on top of before qualifying for Race 1 begins this afternoon.
‘Wildcard’ entries Petr Fulín and Andrej Studenic were P18 and P25 respectively, while new Team Mulsanne driver Kevin Ceccon continued his tough WTCR baptism in his Alfa Romeo with a high-speed spin.
The first qualifying session of WTCR Race of Slovakia takes place at 17h55 local time.