Portugal WTCR: Bjork rebounds from crash to take Sunday pole

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Portugal WTCR: Bjork rebounds from crash to take Sunday pole
By: Jack Cozens
Jun 24, 2018, 10:14 AM

Thed Bjork rewarded his YMR team's efforts to repair his Hyundai overnight by claiming pole position for Sunday's main World Touring Car Cup race at Vila Real.

Bjork's Hyundai was badly damaged in a monster shunt at the start of Saturday's opening race and could not participate when the race resumed, but was mended by YMR in time for Sunday morning's qualifying session

The 2017 World Touring Car champion became the first driver to lap below the two-minute mark by going fastest in the second part of qualifying, and improved marginally on that effort in the Q3 shootout session.

Bjork's eventual best time of 1m59.824s gave him a fourth pole position of the season, 0.340 seconds ahead of the BRC Racing Hyundai of Norbert Michelisz.

Michelisz, who injured his hand in the race one crash, was fastest of all in the final sector and will line up ahead of team-mate Gabriele Tarquini.

Pepe Oriola was a standout performer in qualifying as he dragged his Campos Racing Seat to fourth.

The Spaniard set the second fastest time in the first sector on his Q3 run, but lost time with a slide at the start of the high-speed, dowhill section in the middle sector and then at the roundabout at the end of the lap.

He will start ahead of Yann Ehrlacher, whose Munnich Motorsport team like YMR worked overnight to ensure his car was ready for qualifying.

Ehrlacher was second fastest in the second part of qualifying, but ended up fifth in Q3 and eight tenths adrift of Oriola after shipping 0.7s in the middle sector.

Oriola's late improvement to squeeze into the final part of qualifying consigned another impressive performer, Comtoyou Racing's Aurelien Panis, to sixth in his Audi ahead of the leading WRT Audi of Jean-Karl Vernay.

Mato Homola made the second part of qualifying for the first time and will start Sunday's main race from eighth in his DG Sport Peugeot.

Race one winner Yvan Muller could only manage ninth, but will start Sunday's first race from second behind Gordon Shedden - who will line up on pole for the first time since switching to the WTCR world cup for 2018.

The three-time British Touring Car champion was 10th in Q2 and secured pole for the reversed-grid race by qualifying 0.017s faster than John Filippi.

Esteban Guerrieri was the highest-profile driver to be eliminated in the first part of qualifying and could only manage the 19th fastest time in the second Munnich Motorsport Honda.

The Argentinian, who finished second in Saturday's opening race, ended up close to a second off the Q2 cutoff point with his final effort.

He will start behind the likes of Fabrizio Giovanardi, who was 15th in his Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta and a quarter of a second away from making Q2, and Vila Real local and wildcard entrant Edgar Florindo.

Qualifying results:

ClaNumDriverCarTimekm_h
1 11 SWE Thed Björk Hyundai 1'59.824 143.460
2 5 HUN Norbert Michelisz Hyundai 2'00.164 143.054
3 30 ITA Gabriele Tarquini Hyundai 2'00.319 142.870
4 74 ESP Pepe Oriola Seat 2'00.426 142.743
5 68 FRA Yann Ehrlacher Honda 2'01.266 141.754
6 21 FRA Aurelien Panis Audi 2'00.627 142.505
7 69 FRA Jean-Karl Vernay Audi 2'00.636 142.494
8 70 SVK Mato Homola Peugeot 2'00.637 142.493
9 48 FRA Yvan Muller Hyundai 2'01.011 142.053
10 52 GBR Gordon Shedden Audi 2'01.114 141.932
11 27 FRA John Filippi Seat 2'01.131 141.912
12 63 BEL Benjamin Lessennes Honda 2'01.135 141.907
13 23 FRA Nathanaël Berthon Audi 2'01.626 141.334
14 7 FRA Aurélien Comte Peugeot 2'01.654 141.302
15 88 ITA Fabrizio Giovanardi Alfa Romeo 2'01.721 141.224
16 8 HUN Norbert Nagy Seat 2'01.750 141.190
17 13 POR Edgar Florindo Seat 2'01.809 141.122
18 20 BEL Denis Dupont Audi 2'01.983 140.921
19 86 ARG Esteban Guerrieri Honda 2'02.345 140.504
20 10 ITA Gianni Morbidelli Alfa Romeo 2'02.421 140.417
21 22 BEL Frederic Vervisch Audi 2'02.726 140.068
22 66 HUN Zsolt David Szabo Seat 2'03.115 139.625
23 26 José Rodrigues Honda 2'03.593 139.085
24 9 HOL Tom Coronel Honda 2'06.503 135.886

 

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About this article

Series WTCR
Event Vila Real
Location Circuito Internacional de Vila Real
Drivers Thed Björk
Author Jack Cozens
Article type Qualifying report