FIA WTCR / Oscaro

WTCR JAPAN Qualifying - Highlights

Kevin Ceccon grabbed a sensational first DHL Pole Position for himself and the Team Mulsanne outfit at WTCR JVCKENWOOD Race of Japan in an entertaining second WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO qualifying at Suzuka. The Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR driver advanced to the Q3 segment for the first time by virtue of setting the fastest time in Q2, but showed no signs of inexperience on his shootout run as he romped to pole ahead of BRC Racing Team’s Gabriele Tarquini. DG Sport Compétition driver Aurélien Comte, who claimed the DHL Pole Position for Race 1, ended up third, ahead of the ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR of Yann Ehrlacher and Sébastien Loeb Racing’s Mehdi Bennani. “It’s something incredible for me and for the team,” said Ceccon. “It’s the first pole position for me in the world championship. It’s a great day for everyone. “I was sure I could do a bit better than Q2 but you know, you have to do and it’s not always easy to improve. But it was an amazing lap and I’m really happy for the job we did.” Tarquini was fastest in the 20-minute Q1 session, ahead Ceccon, Ehrlacher, Sébastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR racer Rob Huff and the YMR Hyundai i30 N TCR of Yvan Muller. Comte advanced in his PEUGEOT 308TCR, while title outsider Pepe Oriola and Bennani also made the cut. Title contender Thed Björk struggled and was the biggest name to drop out in Q1. A late effort from Ceccon – who did not have a time on the board until the final minute – bumped Björk down to P13, and a red flag left the Swede no time to respond in his YMR Hyundai i30 N TCR. Tiago Monteiro continued to impress on his comeback weekend and was P16 in his Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda Civic Type R TCR, while Jean-Karl Vernay was frustrated to drop out in his Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team RS 3 LMS. ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport driver Timo Scheider and Comtoyou Racing’s Nathanaël Berthon were P18 and P19 but within a second of Tarquini’s fastest Q1 time, highlighting the competitiveness of the order. Ceccon set the pace in the shorter Q2 session ahead of Comte and Tarquini, with Ehrlacher and Bennani the final two drivers to advance to the pole shootout. Aurélien Panis was sixth, missing out on a place in the shootout by two tenths in his Comtoyou Racing Audi RS 3 LMS, ahead of the second BRC Hyundai i30 N TCR of Norber Michelisz. Denis Dupont (Audi Sport Team Comtoyou) was eighth, ahead of Huff and Oriola – who will start the reverse-grid Race 2 from first place. Muller and Esteban Guerrieri clashed on their opening out-laps and returned to the pits. While both were able to set times before the end of the session, neither made the top 10 – despite Guerrieri matching Oriola’s earlier time in his ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R. Bennani was the first to attempt his timed lap in the Q3 shootout session, setting a 2m13.608s, but that effort was quickly beaten by Ehrlacher, who recorded a 2m11.746s. Tarquini was next up and shot to the top of the times, besting Ehrlacher’s time by three tenths of a second. He looked set to be challenged by Comte, but the Frenchman had a sideways moment at Spoon Curve and ended up 0.194s short of Tarquini’s effort. That left only Ceccon to run, and the Italian duly delivered on his Q2 promise by setting the fastest time of the weekend so far – a 2m10.742s – to beat WTCR OSCARO points leader Tarquini to pole.