Spanish teenager Isidro Callejas will start Race 1 at the Nürburgring from pole position, with the Brutal Fish Racing driver having set the fastest time in Qualifying at the German circuit. An all-Honda front row for the opening race will see the PSS Racing car of Franco Girolami start alongside Callejas, with the current championship leader Mikel Azcona starting from fifth place on the grid.
In the first stage of Qualifying, it was Azcona who set the early pace; the 2018 TCR Europe champion delivering a benchmark of 2:08.573 on his first quick lap, with the Audi RS 3 LMS of Klim Gavrilov second (2:09.444) and Felice Jelmini third (2:10.390). The next lap, however, saw Nicolas Baert go P2 with a time of 2:08.936 before a string of drivers took their turn to go P1 – Niels Langeveld (2:08.527), Teddy Clairet (2:08.460), Dušan Borkovič (2:08.438) and Tom Coronel (2:08.221). Borkovič then improved his time on the next lap with a 2:08.007 to once again top the timesheet ahead of his Comtoyou teammate Coronel.
With around five minutes of Q1 remaining, Azcona went P3 with a 2:08.114, but a furious few laps then saw Clairet (2:07.785), Borkovič (2:07.526) and finally Langeveld (2:07.172) all going fastest, with Coronel ending Q1 in second place, Azcona fourth and Girolami fifth The twelve drivers who went through to Q2 were Langeveld, Coronel, Borkovič, Azcona, Girolami, Gavrilov, Viktor Davidovski, Teddy Clairet, Isidro Callejas, Nicolas Baert, Jack Young and Jáchym Galáš.
The ten-minute second stage of Qualifying was always going to deliver drama and it didn’t disappoint. The first two drivers in the Championship standings, Azcona and Girolami, had each been fastest in yesterday’s two Free Practice sessions and so all eyes were on the pair. It was the Audi of Gavrilov that was the first to set a competitive lap time in the session, however, with the Russian driver’s time of 2:07.985 giving the others their target to beat.
Sure enough, Teddy Clairet (2:07.210), Girolami (2:06.788), Callejas (2:07.174), Azcona (2:07.644) and Coronel (2:07.605) all went quicker, with Girolami looking as though he’d end the session in P1. With around a minute remaining, however, Callejas went faster with a lap time of 2:06.751 to grab his first-ever TCR Europe pole position and Niels Langeveld recorded a 2:06.836 to take P3 away from Clairet. Those three drivers were within just 0.085 of each other, with the CUPRA of Azcona in P5 behind Clairet’s Peugeot. Thanks to the reversed grid, it’ll also be a Brutal Fish Racing Honda on pole for tomorrow’s Race 2, with Jack Young having finished Q2 in tenth position.
1. Isidro Callejas (Brutal Fish Racing, Honda Civic Type-R) 2:06.751
2. Franco Girolami (PSS Racing, Honda Civic Type-R) +0.037
3. Niels Langeveld (Sébastien Loeb Racing, Hyundai Elantra N) +0.085
4. Teddy Clairet (Team Clairet Sport, Peugeot 308) +0.459
5. Mikel Azcona (Volcano Motorsport, CUPRA Leon Competición) +0.585
1. Azcona 236 pts; 2. Girolami 209 pts; 3. Bennani 183 pts; 4. Langeveld 171 pts; 5. Coronel 159 pts
Race 1 is scheduled to start at 14.55 CEST this afternoon and will be streamed live on TCR TV and the series’ social media platforms, plus the TCR Australia and TCR UK Facebook pages.