Photo: TCR Media

Gianni Morbidelli breaks Salzburgring lap record in final practice session

WestCoast Racing’s Gianni Morbidelli led the second practice session at the Salzburgring circuit, poaching a slipstream from the B3 Racing SEAT Leóns of Attila Tassi and Mat’o Homola to drop Craft-Bamboo’s Sergey Afanasyev to second by the chequered flag.

Unlike in FP1, where Morbidelli spent the bulk of the session on top of the time sheets, it was B3 Racing’s Dusan Borkovic who spent much of the session on top, with the Serbian fastest all the way up until the final ten minutes.

The reigning ETCC Single-Make Trophy champion was then dropped by Target Competition’s Jordi Oriola, who was the first to go faster than Kevin Gleason’s pole time of 1:26.915 from 2015 in his Honda Civic TCR, before Sergey Afanasyev put in a late improvement to go fastest of all with a time of 1:26.744 in the Craft-Bamboo Racing SEAT León TCR.

The Russian’s time didn’t stand for long though, as Morbidelli found a slipstream from the back of the two SEATs of Tassi and Homola, who were working on their qualifying strategy. Morbidelli went fastest with a time of 1:26.637, with Afanasyev and Jordi Oriola completing the top three, with Borkovic having to settle for fourth.

Championship leader Pepe Oriola was fifth fastest in his Craft-Bamboo SEAT, ahead of Mikhail Grachev’s WestCoast Racing Honda, who’d struggled in FP1 on old tyres.

The Volkswagens and Alfa Romeos both had a tough session, with Michela Cerruti suffering with a transmission issue on her Giulietta TCR, and Petr Fulín spending much of the session in the pits with a damaged splitter, with both cars finishing 15th and 16th and last.

The Volkswagen Golfs were all off the pace, with Jean-Karl Vernay fastest for Leopard Racing in 11th, leading the other three cars of Davit Kajaia, Florian Janits and Stefano Comini down to 14th.

“I did a very good lap at the end, but it’s really difficult as all the drivers are very close,” said Moridelli. “We still have to work a bit on my set-up, I’m not 100% sure this will be the set-up for qualifying. We’ve done great until now, so we’ll try and stay in this position.”

Qualifying follows at 15:00 CET.