The Halder Motorsport Honda Civic Type R of Jack Young set the fastest time in the first Free Practice session at the Norisring, although the half-hour session was brought to a premature end when the RC2 Junior Team Audi RS 3 LMS TCR of Rubén Fernández made contact with Isidro Callejas’ Volcano Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición with around five minutes remaining.
FP1 took place under grey clouds with intermittent light rain showers, although a dry line did develop and lap times improved throughout the session. It was Callejas who set the first competitive lap time (1:01.490) with Rookie driver Marco Butti P2 (1:01.973), Young P3 (1:02.383) and Klim Gavrilov P4 (1:02.738).
After ten minutes, Evgenii Leonov went P3 with a lap of 1:02.212, which meant there were three Volcano Motorsport cars in the top five, although that position would swiftly change when Franco Girolami went P4 with a 1:02.201 and then improved with his next lap of 1:02.001. Butti, meanwhile, had gone fastest with a time of 1:00.739.
Halfway through the session, lap times began to tumble thanks to the drying track with the Hyundai Elantra N cars of Felice Jelmini going P4, (1:01.875), Mat’o Homola P2 (1:01.225) and Josh Files P3 (1:01.460). Jelmini and Girolami both improved their best times before Jelmini went quickest (1:00.452) and Mike Halder went second fastest (1:00.533) before improving on his next lap (1:00.175).
With around ten minutes of the session remaining, Homola improved to go P1 with a lap of 1:00.145 before Files became the first driver to break the one-minute lap barrier when he set a time of 59.508. A flurry of drivers followed, including Jelmini (59.528), Homola (59.753) and Nicola Baldan (59.910). Files and Homola then improved their best times with a 59.248 and a 59.610 respectively, while Young set a 59.783 to go P4 before his next lap saw him set the session’s fastest time with a 59.075.
With around five minutes left on the clock, Fernández made heavy contact with Callejas as the CUPRA was leaving the pit lane. Both cars were badly damaged in the incident which brought out the red flags and, unsurprisingly, it was quickly announced that the session would not resume. All twenty-one cars entered for the event took part in the session, although TCR Europe debutant Patrick Sing had a faulty transponder and so no times were recorded for his Hyundai i30 N.
Jack Young (fastest): “It was a very tricky session. I don’t think the times were necessarily representative of how things are going to be this weekend but I think we got the strategy right for Free Practice by getting on the slicks at the right time. The conditions were very tricky and it’s a very, very tricky track with not a lot of corners so every centimetre of the tarmac is going to matter this weekend. Hopefully we can use it to the best of our advantage but we’ll see. I nearly hit the wall in that session, so we’ll have to be careful in the next one. To be honest, I don’t think we’re going to take much from today because of the weather and so I think tomorrow will be completely blind.”
1. Jack Young (Halder Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R) 59.075
2. Josh Files (Target Competition, Hyundai Elantra N) 59.248
3. Felice Jelmini (Target Competition, Hyundai Elantra N) 59.528
4. Mat’o Homola (HYUNDAI | Janík Motorsport, Hyundai Elantra N) 59.610
5. Nicola Baldan (Target Competition, Hyundai Elantra N) 59.910
6. Mike Halder (Halder Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R) 1:00.175
Free Practice 2 is scheduled to start at 14.00CEST this afternoon and live timing will be available via the TCR Europe website. The two-stage Qualifying session and Race 1 are both tomorrow, with Race 2 on Sunday. Qualifying and both races will be streamed live on the series’ social media pages and on the TCR Portal.