Rounds 1 & 2
Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi - 19 / 20 January 2018
Giacomo Altoè wins pole position for the opening race
It was a thrilling Qualifying session at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit that saw Giacomo Altoè setting pole position by a very slim gap for the opening event of the 2018 TCR Middle East series.
The young Italian moved up to the top of the time sheet when there were only ten minutes left in the session. Altoè clocked a provisional fastest lap of 1:47.710 that was only 20 thousandths of a second faster than Luca Engstler 1:14.730.
A few moments later they both improved – Altoè to 1:14.569 and Engstler to 1:14.673 – locking up the front row for tomorrow’s Race 1.
Mat’o Homola (1:14.782) and Florian Thoma (1:14.851) ranked third and fourth, two and three tenths from the pole respectively.
Kai Jordan claimed a brilliant fifth place (1:15.021) ahead of a trio of drivers who were all covered by four hundreds of a second: Jordi Oriola (1:15.263), Giovanni Altoè (1:15.267) and Lorenzo Veglia (1:15.305).
Alberto Vescovi was sixth, not far away (1:15.619), while Costas Papantonis was disappointed; in fact he was forced to stop early by an issue with the rear suspension that prevented him from repeating the times he had set earlier in Practice.
As a consolation he will be on pole position of the top-ten reverse grid for Race 2. A place that Martin Ryba missed by only four hundreds of a second.
The two 20-lap races will take place tomorrow at 11:00 and 14:25 local time respectively.
Drivers’ quotes after the Qualifying session
Giacomo Altoè (pole position): “I’m over the moon. We have been able to show the great potential of our car. Everything worked perfectly and it was a great result, for the team and for myself. We have worked very well in setting up the car and this paid off as my pole position time was very impressive.”
Luca Engstler (2nd fastest): “It was really close. The team has done a very good job and I was confident I could set pole position myself. Unfortunately I made a small mistake in my fastest lap, otherwise I could have beaten Giacomo. But I’m very happy with the car and tomorrow I want to win the first race.”
Mat’o Homola (3rd fastest): “I’m happy. I was improving every lap, as I had to get used to the car that is very different from the one I drove last year. It is a good result, but because the gaps between the top four drivers are so small, I’m also a bit disappointed. In fact, taking away two tenths would have meant to be on pole.”
Florian Thoma (4th fastest): “I really tried my best, but it was not enough. I have lost something in the last sector and this cost me a couple of tenths. However, I feel good in the car and I’m confident for the races.”
2018 TCR Middle East Series – calendar
19/20 January – Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi
26/27 January – Dubai Autodrome
23/24 February – Bahrain International Circuit
Further information, results, HD pictures and live timing at http://middleeast.tcr-series.com