Jose Maria Lopez in his Citroen Racing car dominated the qualifying session to claim pole position for the main World Touring Car Championship on Sunday This race weekend was taking place on the Nurburgring Nordschleife circuit. During the qualifying session Lopez beat the lap current lap record after he set an astonishing lap time.
The qualifying session was unexpectedly dry and Lopez was the fastest on the circuit during his first run before a red flag was brought out to clear up a stricken car off the circuit. When the session was restarted he set the an even better lap time to break the current record of 8:35.541 in his Citroen C-Elysee. This lap time was 1.9 seconds closer than the previous lap time around the fast circuit.
Lopez was full of praise for the team as he stated “This is teamwork, not just me. I had the confidence because I was in P1 to try and push more.”
His team mate, Yvan Muller finished the session second quickest but was 3.573 seconds behind Lopez’ time.
ROAL Motorsport’s Tom Coronel finished in third, a second slower than Muller. Norbert Michelisz ended in fourth and was the fastest of the three Honda Racing factory backed cars.
Brit Tom Chilton finished in fifth place for Sunday’s main race. Thed Bjork surprised everyone to finish sixth with their teammate Fredrik Ekblom had chosen to focus on finding a good race set up over single lap pace for the majority of the race weekend.
Honda Racing’s Rob Huff secured seventh in the second of the Hondas although Huff will have to take a penalty after enduring a crash during the first practice had wrecked his original engine.
Lada’s Nicky Catsburg was the fastest of their team, with Mehdi Bennani and Rob Huff’s Honda teammate Tiago Monteiro rounded out the top ten drivers. This promoted Honda’s Monteiro onto pole position for the race one reversed grid race.
Hugo Valente crashed out early in the session. As he was getting to the end of his second lap of the fourteen mile long circuit he crashed out, from the onboard footage from the incident it looks to be that the Lada driver suffered a mechanical failure and could not keep control of the car through the very fast Antoniusbuche curves at the end of the Dottinger Hohe straight. From there he was seen spinning through the Tiergarten curve before suffering a hard impact in the barriers and eventually stopping at Hohenrain. Luckily enough he walked away from the incident uninjured but will have to start in thirteenth alongside the very talented Sabine Schmitz.
Due to his crash it ruled Lada out of the post qualifying session MAC3 time trial as only two of the manufacturers cars were available. Honda and Citroen battled for the MAC3 honours, with Honda taking a very surprising victory.
Honda’s trail of cars led by Michelisz and tailed by Rob Huff stayed nose to tail on the Dottinger Hohe straight and they completed their run in a time of 8:47.920. That was the winning time after Citroen asked Lopez via radio to save on fuel on the back straight of the circuit. Therefore Lopez completed his lap time 1.564 seconds slower than the three Hondas.
The race one grid lines up as follows:
- Tiago Monteiro ~ Honda Racing Team JAS
- Mehdi Bennani ~ Sebastien Loeb Racing
- Thed Bjork ~ Polestar Cyan Racing
- Nicky Catsburg ~ LADA Sport
- Tom Chilton ~ Sebastien Loeb Racing
- Norbert Michelisz ~ Honda Racing Team JAS
- Tom Coronel ~ ROAL Motorsport
- Yvan Muller ~ Citroen Racing
- Jose Maria Lopez ~ Citroen Racing
- Gabriele Tarquini ~ LADA Sport
- Hugo Valente ~ LADA Sport
- Sabine Schmitz ~ Munnich Motorsport
- John Filippi ~ Campos Racing
- Gregoire Demoustier ~ Sebastien Loeb Racing
- Ferenc Ficza ~ Zengo Motorsport
- Rob Huff ~ Honda Racing Team JAS
- Fredrik Ekblom ~ Polestar Cyan Racing
The race two grid is as follows:
1) Jose Maria Lopez ~ Citroen Racing
2) Yvan Muller ~ Citroen Racing
3) Tom Coronel ~ ROAL Motorsport
4) Nortbert Michelisz ~ Honda Racing Team JAS
5) Tom Chilton ~ Sebastien Loeb Racing
6) Nicky Catsburg ~ LADA Sport
7) Thed Bjork ~ Polestar Cyan Racing
8) Rob Huff ~ Honda Racing Team JAS
9) Mehdi Bannini ~ Sebastien Loeb Racing
10)Tiago Monteiro ~ Honda Racing Team JAS
11) Fredrik Ekblom ~ Polestar Cyan Racing
12) Gabriele Tarquini ~ LADA Sport
13) Hugo Valente ~ LADA Sport
14)Sabine Schmidt ~ Munnich Motorsport
15)John Filippi ~ Campos Racing
16) Gregoire Demoustier ~ Sebastien Loeb Racing
17) Ferenc Ficza ~ Zengo Motorsport
©Fay Tilley 30th May 2016.