Following the dry first Free Practice session this morning, the weather had changed dramatically for Free Practice 2 and the session was run in heavy rain. Several drivers opted to wait to see what the weather would do before starting FP2, which was dominated by the two TCR Europe drivers from the Netherlands, Tom Coronel and Niels Langeveld.
The pair showed their intentions early on, with Coronel’s Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS and the Sébastien Loeb Racing Hyundai Elantra N of Langeveld among the early pace-setters, along with Franco Girolami in a PSS Racing Honda Civic Type-R. All three set lap times around the 2:27 mark on their first competitive laps.
For much of the session, either Coronel or Langeveld topped the timesheet. First to improve was Coronel with a time of 2:24.688, beaten almost immediately by Langeveld with a 2:24.546. Coronel hit back with a lap of 2:24.207, but was again quickly bettered by the Hyundai which set a time of 2:24.132.
While the battle between the pair raged, Jack Young recovered from a brief excursion through the gravel to split the duo with around twelve minutes of the session remaining. He then bettered his time twice to end the session in P3 with a best lap of 2:23.840. Coronel’s two team-mates, Nicolas Baert (2:24.023) and Dušan Borkovič (2:24.285) were fourth and fifth and the young Spaniard Isidro Callejas (2:24.478) meant there were two Brutal Fish Racing Honda Civic cars in the top six.
But Coronel - with his typical style - wasn’t happy to settle for second best. With around six minutes remaining, he improved his time with a 2:23.186 to beat his compatriot once again, and with the rain having eased off he improved yet again on his next lap to end the session with a best lap time of 2:23.063. Langeveld improved with a lap of 2:23.517 but it wasn’t enough to topple Coronel.
In all, 21 of the 22 cars entered for the weekend took part in the session, with the quickest driver in FP1, Mikel Azcona, opting to bed in brakes in readiness for the rest of the weekend and so ended the session in last place.
Tom Coronel (fastest): “This result is very good for the confidence. You know my style is to go out and push on the limit; I made a lot of test days with the car and out of the seven events here with WTCC and WTCR I won three races, so this track treats me very well. In testing, I’ve also been very quick here but you have to do it in the races. We waited at the beginning to see if it would dry out, but my engineer said ‘no, I want to go’ so I went out. I found some interesting lines and if you check the TV you’ll see that I was really playing with the car. I even went off in the last corner with the rear of the car, so maybe I was being a little over-confident. We knew the rest of the weekend was going to be dry, so this was just playing!”
1. Tom Coronel (Comtoyou Racing, Audi RS3 LMS) 2:23.063
2. Niels Langeveld (Sébastien Loeb Racing, Hyundai Elantra N) 2:23.517
3. Jack Young (Brutal Fish Racing, Honda Civic Type-R) 2:23.840
4. Nicolas Baert (Comtoyou Racing, Audi RS3 LMS) 2:24.023
5. Dušan Borkovič (Comtoyou Racing, Audi RS3 LMS) 2:24.285
6. Isidro Callejas (Brutal Fish Racing, Honda Civic Type-R) 2:24.478
Qualifying is scheduled to start at 10.15 CET on Saturday with Race 1 at 15.15. Both will be streamed live on TCR TV and the series’ social media platforms.