After missing July’s TCR Europe event at the Norisiring due to a clashing race commitment, Tom Coronel marked his return to the series in style by going fastest in the second Free Practice session at the Nürburgring. The Comtoyou Racing Audi RS 3 LMS finished the thirty-minute session a little over five-hundredths of a second ahead of Jack Young’s Halder Motorsport Honda Civic Type R while Jáchym Galáš repeated his third fastest time from FP1 in the HYUNDAI | Janík Motorsport Hyundai Elantra N.
Galáš was again one of the first drivers to set a competitive lap time when he clocked a 1:36.685 on his first flying lap, ahead of John Filippi in the Sébastien Loeb Racing – Bardahl Team CUPRA (1:36.973) and Mat’o Homola in the second Janík Motorsport Hyundai (1:37.281). Lap times quickly began to come down, with both Galáš and Homola improving their times before Coronel set a 1:35.667 to go fastest. Michelle Halder was briefly P4 (1:36.244) ahead of Josh Files in P5 but Files then improved on his next lap to move into P4 ahead of the Halder Motorsport driver with a lap of 1:36.118.
With around ten minutes of the session gone, Comtoyou Racing Audi cars occupied three of the top four places, with Marco Butti P2 behind Coronel (1:35.754) and Franco Girolami in P4 (1:35.948). Jack Young then went third fastest with a lap of 1:35.873 before Butti beat Coronel’s time to go P1 with a 1:35.454. The situation didn’t last long, however, with Young then setting the quickest time of the session so far (1:34.806) with Coronel improving his best time with a 1:35.454 – exactly the same time as his young teammate.
As the clock ticked over into the second half of the session, Girolami went P4 behind his colleagues with a lap of 1:35.750 but the Volcano Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición of Klim Gavrilov would play no further part in proceedings after pulling into the pits with a broken driveshaft.
With a little over ten minutes remaining, Files went second-fastest ahead of the three Audi cars with a 1:35.444 before Isidro Callejas took his turn in P2 (1:35.359) and then Files retook the place on his next lap with a time of 1:35.327. Files’ Target Competition teammate Nicola Baldan then went P2 with a 1:35.303 while Filippi had a lap disallowed for repeated track limit infringements at Turn 10.
As the session drew to a close, Young improved (1:34.698), Pepe Oriola took his turn in P2 (1:35.027) and Homola went P3 with a 1:35.259 before another string of last-minute quick laps saw Galáš go P2 with a 1:34.958 and then Coronel set the quickest lap of the session (1:34.645) with less than two minutes left on the clock. When Butti then stopped at Turn 6, bringing out the yellow flags, that effectively ended any real chance of drivers improving their times and so the session ended with Coronel and Young heading a string of five Hyundai Elantra cars.
Tom Coronel (fastest): “The car I’m using here this weekend is the car Stian (Paulsen) drove at the Norisring because my WTCR car is being shipped overseas for the next round. It feels nice; in the first Free Practice I had some small difficulties, especially on the braking, but finally we adjusted it to the proper position. But I’ve done so many laps here at the Nürburgring like in the 24 Hour race and the VLN so I didn’t have to get used to the track. I just have to get used to the part around Turns 6 and 7 – there was so much gravel there it was like a rally stage! Of course, I had fresh tyres but I’m back; you have to show that as well. The car doesn’t know how old you are! It’s good that we can see that the car is capable of being in the top ten. Okay, it’s Free Practice and so let’s see how we do in Qualifying and in the race pace. I did quite a long run and that was also pretty impressive. Until now I have a good feeling and so I want to bring home a trophy.”
1. Tom Coronel (Comtoyou Racing, Audi RS 3 LMS) 1:34.645
2. Jack Young (Halder Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R) 1:34.698
3. Jachym Galáš (HYUNDAI | Janík Motorsport, Hyundai Elantra N) 1:34.958
4. Pepe Oriola (Aggressive Team Italia, Hyundai Elantra N) 1:35.027
5. Mat’o Homola (HYUNDAI | Janík Motorsport, Hyundai Elantra N) 1:35.259
6. Nicola Baldan (Target Competition, Hyundai Elantra N) 1:35.303
The two-stage Qualifying session begins at 08.45 CEST tomorrow with Race 1 at 17.00 CEST and Race 2 at 17.50 CEST on Sunday. Qualifying and both races will be streamed live on the series’ social media pages and on the TCR Portal.