Italy’s Nicola Baldan, driving a Target Competition Hyundai Elantra N, set the fastest time in this morning’s first Free Practice session at the Nürburgring. The Comtoyou Racing Audi RS 3 LMS of series leader Franco Girolami was second fastest and the HYUNDAI | Jánik Motorsport Hyundai Elantra N of Jáchym Galáš was third.
First to set a competitive lap time around the 3.629km Nürburgring Sprint circuit was Galáš’s teammate Mat’o Homola, who set a time of 1:37.191 on his first flying lap. Galáš was fractionally slower (1:38.247) with Jon Filippi (1:37.676), Giacomo Ghermandi (1:37.515) and Tom Coronel (1:37.626) all setting similar times. Homola improved on his next lap with a 1:36.579, with Baldan setting a 1:36.200 before Baldan’s teammate Felice Jelmini went fastest with a 1:35.809. Klim Gavrilov then went P2 and improved on his next lap to go P1 with a time of 1:35.523.
After ten minutes of the half-hour session, Isidro Callejas went fastest with a lap of 1:35.478, although the young Spaniard was quickly beaten by Girolami (1:35.251) and Gavrilov again (1:35.067). Making his TCR Europe debut, Jonas Karklys was P5 with a lap of 1:35.861 before improving with a 1:35.559 on his next lap.
Halfway through the session, Jack Young went fastest in the Halder Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R, becoming the first driver to break the 1:35 barrier with a lap of 1:34.809. Jelmini went P3 with a 1:35.122 and Josh Files was P4 (1:35.198) in the other Target Competition Hyundai. Within five minutes, Jelmini improved to P2 with a lap of 1:34.960 and Girolami was P4 (1:35.107).
Then, with a little over five minutes remaining, Baldan went fastest with a 1:34.689 and that time wouldn’t be beaten. Homola improved to P6 (1:35.119) while his young teammate Galáš went P4 with a 1:34.981. Then, in a flurry of quick laps in the session’s final moments, Tom Coronel improved to P6 (1:34.964), Girolami to P2 (1:34.752) and Galáš to P3 (1:34.762).
Josh Files stopped on track in the final few minutes of the session and had to nurse the car back to the pits with a suspected electrical fault, while both Evgenii Leonov and Viktor Davidovksi had transponder issues and so didn’t record official times. Their teams estimated Davidovksi’s best lap was a 1:35.2 and Leonov’s was a 1:36.9. Mike Halder, meanwhile, won’t take part in the Nürburgring event after a late decision to compete in this weekend’s TCR Denmark event at Jyllandsringen.
Nicola Baldan (fastest): “It has been a very good start to the weekend – I have a very good feeling with the car. We have started with a good pace and we have to go on like this; for Free Practice 2 we will have to continue this pace. The car is proving to be competitive on this track, and I believe that because of the relatively short straights and the medium slow corners, this emphasises the positives of the car - we have to use this advantage. It’s always good for the mood to start off in this way and we now have to keep the concentration and go on working like this.”
1. Nicola Baldan (Target Competition, Hyundai Elantra N) 1:34.689
2. Franco Girolami (Comtoyou Racing, Audi RS 3 LMS) 1:34.752
3. Jachym Galáš (HYUNDAI | Janík Motorsport, Hyundai Elantra N) 1:34.762
4. Jack Young (Halder Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R) 1:34.809
5. Felice Jelmini (Target Competition, Hyundai Elantra N) 1:34.878
6. Tom Coronel (Comtoyou Racing, Audi RS 3 LMS) 1:34.964
Free Practice 2 is scheduled to start at 16.40CEST this afternoon and live timing will be available via the TCR Europe website. The two-stage Qualifying session and Race 1 are both tomorrow, with Race 2 on Sunday. Qualifying and both races will be streamed live on the series’ social media pages and on the TCR Portal.