WTCR First Qualifying flash: Michelisz claims vital DHL pole in Malaysia
The BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse driver, who was fastest in the opening free practice session, set a best time of 2m13.748, which was nearly four-tenths of a second quicker than the Comtoyou DHL Team Cupra of Aurélien Panis, while ALL-INKL .COM Münnich Motorsport Honda driver Nestor Girolami rounded out the top three.
“I was quite happy with the car and my performance. The laps were some of the bets of my career. I started with an aggressive strategy but within the limits. I must thank the team for this today, it was a perfect performace. I take the glory, but I think I gained a little bit of time thanks to the slipstream,” Michelisz said.
Michelisz’s third pole of the season gives the Hungarian driver the maximum five points for the qualifying session and increases his points margin over Münnich Motorsport’s Esteban Guerrieri from nine to 14 ahead of Race 1.
FP2 pacesetter Mikel Azona was fourth fastest in his PWR Racing Cupra, having been the nearest challenger to Michelisz for the majority of the 30-minute session.
Michelisz’s closest #RoadtoMalaysia title rival Esteban Guerrieri endured a frustrating session in the second BRC Squadra Corse Hyundai i30 N TCR cars, only managing the tenth quickest time and failing to score any qualifying points. The Argentinian is now 14 points behind Michelisz heading into the first of three races this weekend.
Suffering more than Guerrieri were the leading Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 03 TCR cars of Yvan Muller and Thed Björk, who continued to struggle throughout the session. Muller lines up 16th while Björk languishes 28th out of 30 for the Race 1 grid.
Michelisz’s Hyundai stablemates Augusto Farfus, Nicky Catsburg and Gabriele Tarquini follow behind the Audi of Frederic Vervisch, while the Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Guilietta TCR of Ma Qing Hua lines up ninth, ahead of Guerrieri.
The session was briefly interrupted in Q1 by a full course yellow as the Sébastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI of Rib Huff stopped on track.
The second qualifying session of WTCR Race of Malaysia takes place from 19h30 local time.