The HYUNDAI | Janík Motorsport Elantra N of Mat’o Homola started the 2022 TCR Europe season in style, with the Slovak driver setting the fastest time in the first Free Practice session at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimão. Second quickest was the Halder Motorsport Honda Civic Type R of Jack Young with the Comtoyou Racing Audi RS 3 LMS TCR of Franco Girolami third fastest.
Six drivers were initially black-flagged at the start of the session as a result of not having completed the administrative document checks. Those affected were the four Volcano Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición cars of Isidro Callejas, Klim Gavrilov, Evgenii Leonov and Gustavo Moura Jr and the two Brutal Fish Honda Civic cars of Pepe Oriola and Martin Ryba, although all six were subsequently allowed to take part in the session.
Josh Files (Target Competition, Hyundai Elantra N) was the first driver to set a competitive lap time when he clocked a 1:52.947 on his third lap, although the 2019 TCR Europe champion was soon eclipsed by Homola (1:52.276), Young (1:52.314), Girolami (1:52.447) and Mike Halder (Halder Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R) with a time of 1:52.451 on his fourth lap.
There then followed a string of lap times deleted for track limit infringements at Turns 1, 4 and 15. With around five minutes of the half-hour session remaining, Pepe Oriola went fifth quickest with a lap of 1:52.475 and Felice Jelmini (Target Competition, Hyundai Elantra N) was sixth fastest with a 1:52.539. Tom Coronel (Comtoyou Racing, Audi RS 3 LMS TCR) then also pipped Files’ time to go P7 with a best lap of 1:52.779.
With Callejas (1:52.820) and Homola’s teammate Jáchym Galáš (1:52.914) then setting the eighth and ninth fastest times respectively, Files ended the session in P10, although the first fourteen cars were covered by a little over eight-tenths of a second.
Mat’o Homola (fastest): “It’s good to start the season like that, especially with a new car. I feel really good in the car, but this is only our third outing with the new Elantra after one test in the Slovakiaring and one test race event. It takes a slightly different driving style and so I’m still getting used to it. We don’t know what the others are doing, whether they are playing or something, but I’m pretty happy with the pace and the behaviour of the car. Everyone knows where they have to improve and everyone will improve, that’s for sure. But also we need to work on the weaknesses that we know about. This was Free Practice, after all, and Qualifying is the most important thing.”
1. Mat’o Homola (HYUNDAI | Janík Motorsport, Hyundai Elantra N) 1:52.276
2. Jack Young (Halder Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R) 1:52.314
3. Franco Girolami (Comtoyou Racing, Audi RS 3 LMS TCR) 1:52.447
4. Mike Halder (Halder Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R) 1:52.451
5. Pepe Oriola (PSS Racing Team, Honda Civic Type-R) 1:52.475
6. Felice Jelmini (Target Competition, Hyundai Elantra N) 1:52.539
Free Practice 2 is scheduled to start at 15.30 local time (16.30CEST). Live timing is available via the TCR Europe website (europe.tcr-series.com)