Santiago Urrutia, driving the Team WRT Audi RS3 LMS, set the fastest lap time in the first Free Practice session ahead of Rounds 9 and 10 of TCR Europe at Oschersleben.
The early pace setter in the thirty-minute session was the Target Competition Hyundai of Andreas Bäckman, who set a time of 1:32.914. Andreas, together with his sister Jessica, had enjoyed a successful test at the German circuit over the winter and both of the Swedish siblings are confident about their chances this weekend.
The second driver to beat the 1:33 lap time barrier was M1RA’s Luca Engstler, who currently lies in second position in the Drivers’ standings behind Josh Files. Engstler recorded a best lap of 1:32.745 and when Nelson Panciatici went faster with a 1:32.166 Hyundai cars held all of the top three positions. Files, incidentally, only completed three laps and finished the session in P17 with a best lap time of 1:33.607.
Then, with less than ten minutes of the session remaining, Daniel Lloyd lapped in 1:32.085, with Tom Coronel then pipping that time with a 1:31.881 to leave Honda cars in first and second positions.
Urrutia saved his best performance until right at the end of the session when he lapped in 1:31.681 with only a few minutes remaining. As the chequered flag fell, it looked as thought the Uruguayan driver was on course to go even quicker, but he backed off and headed for the pits once he was sure he wasn’t going to be beaten.
Urrutia commented: “This is my first time in Oschersleben and so to be P1 from the first session is really good. We worked really hard after Austria after we had a tough weekend there and couldn’t get into Q2, so I’ve been working on the simulator and the team has done a great job with the car. Of course, its only Free Practice but it’s a good start. In Austria, I was P15 and so I knew it was going to be a tough weekend so to be P1 here means we know we are going the right way. WRT has done a really good job, but we know that the Hyundai cars are always slow in Practice and then are really quick in Qualifying. I know it’s going to be difficult to pass here, so Qualifying will be something like 80% of the weekend and so we’ll put everything into being at the front.”
The second free practice will take place at 16:10.
1. 1:31.681 – Santiago Urrutia (Team WRT, Audi RS 3 LMS)
2. 1:31.881 – Tom Coronel (Boutsen-Ginion Racing, Honda Civic FK7)
3. 1:32.085 – Daniel Lloyd (Brutal Fish Racing Team, Honda Civic FK7)
4. 1.32.166 – Nelson Panciatici (M Racing, Hyundai i30 N)
5. 1:32.331 – Luca Engstler (M1RA Motorsport, Hyundai i30 N)