Volcano Motorsport’s Mikel Azcona and PSS Racing’s Franco Girolami ended the first Free Practice session at the Nürburgring in first and second places after the pair took it in turns to top the timesheet during the thirty-minute session.
First to set competitive lap times were the Hyundai Elantra N cars of the Sébastien Loeb Racing team, with Felice Jelmini setting a time of 2:12.023 on his first quick lap, ahead of his teammates Niels Langeveld (2:12.432) and Mehdi Bennani (2:12.469). On the next lap, however, Teddy Clairet took around two seconds off those times with a lap of 2:10.293 in the Team Clairet Sport Peugeot 308, with Langeveld improving his time with a 2:10.888 to stay P2 and Jelmini also improving with a 2:10.954.
On the fourth lap, Clairet improved again (2:10.037) but Kilm Gavrilov then set a time of 2:10.018 and Franco Girolami a 2:09.299 to beat the French driver. Girolami then set a 2:08.796 on his next lap to strengthen his hold on P1, with Tom Coronel (2:09.836) and Gavrilov (2:09.463) taking it in turns to go P2.
Then Mikel Azcona set the quickest lap of the session so far (2:08.184) with Girolami improving yet again (2:08.489) but remaining P2. Azcona, the current championship leader, then set a 2:08.088 while, with less than eight minutes of the session remaining, Nicolas Baert set the fourth fastest time of 2:09.825.
Lap times continued to improve as the clock ticked down, with Clairet regaining P3 with a 2:09.073 and Jachym Galas breaking into the top five with a 2:09.576. With less than two minutes remaining, Girolami went fastest with a 2:07.461 while both Coronel and Clairet improved their best times. As the chequered flag fell, Azcona snatched P1 back from Girolami with a stunning lap of 2:06.591. Coronel also improved to go P3 ahead of Clairet with a 2:08.722.
Mikel Azcona (fastest): “I’m really happy with the result. We used new tyres on the front in the final part of Free Practice 1 which gave me a lot of grip and at the same time I did a perfect lap and went into every corner on the limit. I will have to repeat that lap in Qualifying but I’m very happy with how the car is working even if we are struggling a little bit in one or two areas. Franco Girolami and I are the two drivers battling for the Championship; he is a really good driver and he has a good chance to win the title this year. It’s going to be tough because he will be putting pressure on me, but I will do my best as always and I will try to go for it for the title. I have something like fifty points difference and so for me it’s more relaxed, but I will push maximum like always.”
1. Mikel Azcona (Volcano Motorsport, CUPRA Leon Competición) 2:06.591
2. Franco Girolami (PSS Racing Team, Honda Civic Type-R) 2:07.461
3. Tom Coronel (Comtoyou Racing, Audi RS 3 LMS) 2:08.722
4. Teddy Clairet (Team Clairet Sport, Peugeot 308) 2:08.853
5. Klim Gavrilov (VRC-Team, Audi RS 3 LMS) 2:09.463
Free Practice 2 is scheduled to start at 15.00 CEST. Live timing will be available via the TCR Portal tcr-series.tv