WTCR Qualifying flash: Guerrieri takes double DHL Pole Position
Esteban Guerrieri will start both Race 1 and Race 3 at WTCR Race of Hungary from the DHL Pole Position after a brilliant qualifying session for the Argentine ace at a wet Hungaroring.
The ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR driver scored a maximum 10 points from qualifying by topping both the Q1 session and the Q3 shootout to jump up from fifth in the standings to third.
Guerrieri secured his first five points and the DHL Pole Position for Race 1 with a convincing performance in the 20-minute Q1 session. He set a benchmark time early on, then improved on his final lap with a time of 2m05.665s. The other points scorers were Mikel Azcona in second place, who was another to make a late improvement, Goodyear #FollowTheLeader Yann Ehrlacher (Lynk & Co) in third, Tiago Monteiro (Honda) in fourth and Attila Tassi (Honda) in fifth.
The top 12 graduate to Q2. Among those to miss the cut were the Hyundais of Luca Engstler and Gabriele Tarquini in P13 and P14 respectively, Thed Björk (Lynk & Co) and King of WTCR and local hero Norbert Michelisz, who was suffering a misfire.
“This session was quite bad for us,” he said. “We suffered some problems. We could have been in Q2, but my car was not running properly.”
Others to miss out included Tom Coronel, currently second in the WTCR points, who was down in P19. But among those who did make the top 12 to progress included another local driver, Bence Boldizs, who qualified in P12 in his Zengő Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición.
The 10-minute Q2 session was next, with the top five progressing to the Q3 shoot-out. Azcona went through as the fastest qualifier with a time of 2m05.520s, ahead of Guerrieri, Tassi, Néstor Girolami and Monteiro – making it four Hondas and one CUPRA to run one at a time.
Yvan Muller completed the session in P10, which initially secured the Frenchman the DHL Pole Position for the reverse-grid Race 2 prior to a penalty for Gilles Magnus. The resulting reshuffle of positions leaves Bence Boldizs on top spot for Race 2 followed by Muller, his nephew and Cyan Racing Lynk & Co team-mate Yann Ehrlacher, the Comtoyou Audi of Nathanaël Berthon and Jean-Karl Vernay, who was sixth fastest in Q2 in his Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo. Magnus was penalised after checks found his Audi breached ride height regulations and his lap times were subsequently deleted. Boldizs and Santiago Urrutia (Lynk & Co) were P11 and P12 in the session.
Azcona was the first of the top five to run in Q3, but the CUPRA driver stopped at the end of the pitlane due to a mix-up within his team over when he could take to the fast lane to head to the pit exit. By the time he reached the exit lights, they had agonisingly turned to red for Azcona and he was unable to attempt a lap. “I don’t know what happened,” said a confused Azcona.
That meant Tassi was effectively the first to run and set a time of 2m06.267s. Now it was Monteiro’s turn, but the Portuguese could only manage a time that was 0.635s slower than the Hungarian.
Girolami then took his turn – but he also didn’t have the pace to challenge Tassi’s provisional pole. In fact, he was also slower than Monteiro.
That left Guerrieri, who had been fastest in both free practice sessions and in Q1. Would he take a double DHL Pole Position and knock Tassi from the top? Yes – with a time of 2m05.705s to take the Race 3 DHL pole by 0.562s to complete a Honda 1-2-3-4, Guerrieri heading Tassi, Monteiro and Girolami.
“I’m really happy for the team, but it’s a shame for Mikel Azcona,” said a gracious Guerrieri. “That happened to me when I was first in WTCC. But nevertheless I am very happy for the Honda drivers.”
Girolami said: “I’m super-happy for Honda to secure a 1-2-3-4, it’s amazing. “The car performs really well in these conditions.”
Monteiro added: “It was a good lap. I thought I was taking enough risks, but the track has evolved and it was a little bit on the safe side. But the Honda 1-2-3-4 shows we have a fantastic car.”
Race 1 at WTCR Race of Hungary takes place on Sunday morning at 09h15 local time.