FIA WTCR RACE OF
Vila Real, 22-24
WTCR – FIA World
Touring Car Cup
BEATS SÉBASTIEN LOEB RACING TEAM-MATE BENNANI TO WTCR VILA REAL POLE
*Briton secures DHL Pole Position for Volkswagen Golf GTI
as five customer racing brands feature in top 10
wildcards out of luck at challenging street racing venue
Rob Huff and Mehdi Bennani will start from the front row
for Race 1 at WTCR Race of Portugal as the Sébastien Loeb Racing pair
edged the opening WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO
qualifying session at the magnificent Vila Real street track this
Huff secured his second WTCR DHL Pole Position of the season after
improving his benchmark three times during a sun-baked session interrupted
by several red-flag stoppages. The Briton set a best lap of 2m00.642s
to secure the top spot by just 0.027s from his team-mate. Bennani, in
turn, was just 0.329s clear of Norbert Michelisz’s BRC Racing Team
Hyundai i30 N TCR in third.
“Brilliant,” said a delighted Huff. “Congratulations to the Sébastien
Loeb Racing team. What a performance, to lock out the front row by such
a tiny margin. We stayed out of trouble and away from the walls. I am
so pleased for myself and for Mehdi.”
There were three interruptions by red flags, before a fourth curtailed
the 40-minute session with just 2m20s to run. The stoppages were mostly
to replace bollards at the chicanes, with the second red flag required
to remove Gianni Morbidelli’s Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR
from the track after the Italian nosed his car into a barrier.
WTCR points leader Yann Ehrlacher was fourth quickest, while YMR
team-mates Thed Björk and Yvan Muller were fifth and sixth, 2017 World
Touring Car champion Björk only managing the fifth fastest time after
topping both free practice sessions this morning.
John Filippi showed promise with P7 in a Team OSCARO by Campos Racing
Cupra TCR, ahead of the ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic
Type R TCR of Esteban Guerrieri. Gabriele Tarquini’s BRC Racing Team
Hyundai and Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team’s Vila Real rookie Jean-Karl
Vernay were next, ensuring a mix of five of the WTCR’s customer racing
brands in the top 10. Vernay was the fastest of the Vila Real
Briton James Thompson was P11 in his ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport
Honda, one of several drivers who suffered from the red flag
interruptions. Zsolt Zsabó was an encouraging P12 for Zengő Motorsport
ahead of Pepe Oriola and teenage rookie Benjamin Lessennes in Boutsen
Ginion Racing’s Honda.
Aurélien Comte was P15 in his DG Sport Compétition PEUGEOT 308TCR,
ahead of Tom Coronel in his Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda.
There was misfortune for the two WTCR Race of Portugal wildcard
entries. Vila Real resident Edgar Florindo was down in P26 for Veloso
Motorsport, while Target Competition’s José Rodrigues suffered an
engine problem with his Honda. An engine change for Race 1 means he
will start from the back of the grid.
Fabrizio Giovanardi was also hit with a back-of-the-grid penalty as his
Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo also requires an engine change.
Race 1 at WTCR Race of Portugal is due to get underway on Saturday
afternoon at 16h00 local time. Click here
to find out how to watch live digital coverage.