WTCR Qualifying update: Azcona fastest in Q1, crash for Bjork in Q2
Mikel Azcona set the pace in the first 30-minute Q1 session of Qualifying at WTCR Clean Fuels for All Race of France at Circuit de Pau-Ville, before Q2 was interrupted by a heavy accident for Cyan Performance Lynk & Co driver Thed Björk.
Azcona’s BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Elantra N TCR topped the times ahead of Néstor Girolami’s Honda, Gilles Magnus (Audi), Esteban Guerrieri (Honda) and Ma Qing Hua (Lynk & Co). As the top 12 progressed to Q2, six drivers missed the cut. They were headed by Rob Huff’s Zengő Motorsport Cupra Leon Competición, the British driver ending up just 0.063s slower than Santiago Urrutia who just made it through in P12. The Uruguayan had been fastest in both free practice sessions, so might have expected to qualify more comfortably than he did.
King of WTCR Yann Ehrlacher was also relieved to make it through after scraping his Lynk & Co against a barrier and incurring damage. “I’m sorry for the guys, but we are on the edge and it can happen,” he said. “There is no margin for error here.”
Beyond Huff, the others to miss the cut were Mehdi Bennani (Audi) in P14, Tiago Monteiro (Honda), Tom Coronel whose session was interrupted by a tyre off the rim on his Audi, Dániel Nagy (Cupra) and wildcard entry Éric Cayrolle (Audi).
The Q2 session was interrupted after three of its 15-minute duration when Thed Björk clipped a wall at Turn 12/13, which sent the Lynk & Co heavily into the barrier on the other side of the track. The front-left punched a big hole in the barrier as Björk’s car bounced out and was left stranded in the middle of the track on the exit of a blind corner. Two other Lynk & Cos narrowly missed him, threading through a small gap between the car and the barrier as the red flags flew to stop the session. Björk walked away from the accident unaided.
Ma was the first on the scene and was relieved to narrowly avoid his own accident. “It was really a critical situation,” he said. “I saw the yellow flag, I slowed down a little bit, but Thed’s car was stopped just on the exit of a blind corner, and I couldn’t see at all. I was really lucky to go through [the gap] but I still have some damage on the car.”
Barrier repairs are currently in progress and the Q2 session will restart once they are complete.