Jean Karl Vernay grabbed a last-gasp pole position for the TCR season finale at Macau in a rain-hit qualifying session on Saturday from Leopard Racing teammate Stefano Comini.
After a relatively straightforward Q1 session, the rain that had threatened all morning finally arrived – leaving the challenging Guia circuit soaked.
Following a brief delay to let track conditions stabilise, the 12 cars that got through to Q2 were finally able to get going in the shootout for the top spot.
After some relatively slow exploratory laps, Vernay and Comini – who remains series leader James Nash’s principal challenger in the title battle – were quickly in a class of their own at the front of the field.
On the penultimate lap they were two seconds clear of their nearest challenger, and with it clear the times were tumbling as drivers got used to the wet, the grid was going to be decided on the final lap.
Comini was going quicker but got held up by Nash’s teammate Pepe Oriola – losing valuable time and that meant Vernay – who had found a gap in the traffic – was able to beat him to the top spot
Tiago Monteiro, who is making a guest appearance in the Macau finale, ended up third quickest after the team got to the bottom of the engine problem that had caused him to miss much of the final practice session.
Antti Buri made the most of the wet conditions in his year-old SEAT to take fourth, ahead of Dusan Borkovic and Gianni Morbidelli.
Nash ended up seventh after a moment towards the end of the session was he missed the braking point for Lisboa and ran down the escape road.