Tarquini leads Hyundai 1-2 in qualifying

Gabriele Tarquini will start Saturday’s opening World Touring Car Cup race at the Slovakia Ring from pole after he and BRC Racing Hyundai teammate Norbert Michelisz dominated qualifying.

Tarquini beat Michelisz’s long-standing benchmark by 0.352 seconds with his final lap at the end of the session, securing his second pole of the season with a fastest time of 2m09.312s.

The BRC pair both completed two runs in their Hyundais and were comfortably quickest of all, with third-place qualifier and championship leader Yvan Muller more than six tenths slower than Michelisz and close to a second off Tarquini’s time.

Aurelien Comte qualified best of the rest in his DG Sport Peugeot in fourth, 1.014s off the pace, while Pepe Oriola (Campos Racing SEAT) and Esteban Guerrieri (Munnich Motorsport Honda) were fifth and sixth.

Muller’s teammate Thed Bjork was seventh with his one and only run at the start of the session, but will start the first race of the weekend from the back of the grid after YMR elected to change his Hyundai’s engine.

That means WRT driver Jean-Karl Vernay will start from the head of row four in the fastest of the Audis, with the respective Boutsen Ginion and Munnich Hondas of Tom Coronel and title hopeful Yann Ehrlacher eighth and ninth.

Fresh from a first WTCR victory at Vila Real three weeks ago, Mato Homola qualified 11th for the first race at his home venue.

Fabrizio Giovanardi equalled the Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo outfit’s best qualifying of the season so far and will start race one from 14th, six places ahead of new team-mate Kevin Ceccon.

John Filippi avoided a grid penalty for an engine change but failed to set a time in qualifying after beaching his Campos Racing SEAT in the gravel on his first qualifying effort, causing a short red flag.

Sebastien Loeb Racing drivers Rob Huff and Mehdi Bennani were 23rd and 24th in their new Volkswagen Golf GTIs, which were delivered to the team then built up after the pair’s huge shunt in the opening race at Vila Real.

Huff qualified 2.531s off the pace, with Bennani a further half a second back.

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