Franco Girolami storms to pole position in qualifying at Vallelunga

Franco Girolami storms to pole position in qualifying at Vallelunga

Returning 2022 champion Franco Girolami has taken pole position on his return to the TCR Europe series in a dusky qualifying session late on Friday evening at Vallelunga, also securing the first pole for the new CUPRA Leon VZ TCR on its debut and for the Monlau Motorsport team.


Girolami topped the time sheets in the first part of qualifying, taking over from early pace-setter Ignacio Montenegro, with Girolami first setting a time of 1:39.733, followed by a 1:39.616, and would eventually finish the session ahead of Nicola Baldan’s Audi and Aurélien Comte’s SP Compétition CUPRA.


Then in Q2, a series of fast laps were put together by Ruben Volt in the ALM Motorsport Honda Civic, who was then quickly overtaken by Nicola Baldan’s Audi, and then Girolami’s put together first a 1:39.435 followed by a 1:39.397 to comfortably secure pole position.


His closest challenger was newcomer Ignacio Montenegro, with the Argentinian just under two-tenths of a second behind in his ALM Motorsport Honda, with practice pace-setter Aurélien Comte settling for third in his SP Compétition CUPRA.


It turned into a dramatic session for the Honda drivers Volt and Dusan Borkovic, with both drivers having a number of their laps deleted. Borkovic lost three laps in a row due to track limits violations, with his final lap initially seeming only good enough for 11th, but was then his luck was Volt’s misfortune, with the Estonian driver’s final lap also being deleted, meaning he set no competitive laps in the session and will start from last place.


With Borkovic elevated to tenth, the GOAT Racing driver will start Race 2 from pole position.


Girolami meanwhile picks up the first points of the season with pole position for Race 1, and looks set for a close battle with his fellow Argentinian Montenegro started from the front row for Race 2 tomorrow.


The first race is scheduled to take place at 18:05 CEST on Saturday.


“I’m so happy and proud for Monlau and CUPRA, who gave me this amazing car to drive,” said Girolami. “ They do the work, I just drive the car. We’ve now got ten points in our pocket, but there are 80 points left across the weekend, so this is just the beginning.


“(The new CUPRA Leon VZ) is very good. We’re working every time we go out and we improve as it’s a new car, but to be P1 we can certainly see the car’s good. What we don’t know the race pace, and we don’t have a lot of experience with this car, so we’ll see tomorrow.


Dusan Borkovic, pole-sitter for Race 2, said:


“I’m super-happy with the car and the team, they did an amazing job. Unfortunately, I had some track limits warnings. The tyres were then dead, so I could only push for the P10 and go for pole for Race 2. In that race we’ll try to win for sure, and tomorrow we’ll fight hard too that’s for sure.


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