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Roberto Colciago storms to pole in Sepang on TCR International debut

2016 TCR Italy series champion Roberto Colciago has claimed pole position for the first race this weekend in the TCR International Series in Malaysia, out-qualifying championship contender Pepe Oriola by six-hundredths of a second.

The Target Competition Honda driver set the pole time of 2:15.021 in the 30-minute session to become the ninth different pole-sitter in the ten race weekends of the season, and scores Target’s first since Stefano Comini set pole at the same circuit a year ago.

Pepe Oriola, who currently sits third in the championship, picked up a critical four points after qualifying second on the grid in his Craft-Bamboo SEAT León TCR, with the Honda Civic TCR of WestCoast Racing’s Mikhail Grachev third fastest, less than a tenth behind.

Jean-Karl Vernay was the best-placed of the Volkswagen drivers, with the Leopard Racing driver almost three-tenths down in the Golf GTI TCR, with Slovakian driver Mat’o Homola completing the top five in B3 Racing’s SEAT.

Championship front-runners Stefano Comini (Leopard Volkswagen), Gianni Morbidelli (WestCoast Honda) and points leader James Nash followed (Craft-Bamboo SEAT), while Kevin Gleason qualified in ninth, with all of WestCoast Racing’s Hondas making the top ten.

Tin Sritrai grabbed pole position in the TCR Asia class with the tenth fastest time in his Team Thailand Honda Civic, and also lands pole position for Saturday’s Race 2 with the top ten reversed grid. TCR Asia Series’ points leader Andy Yan qualified in 15th in the Engstler-run Volkswagen Golf, and can secure the title this weekend ahead of the Macau finale.

TCR International regular Dusan Borkovic just missed the top ten in his B3 SEAT León, along with Russia’s Sergey Afanasyev, who qualified in 12th in his Craft-Bamboo SEAT.

The FRD Team’s Ford Focus TCR qualified in 19th of the 23 cars entered, with Nicky Pastorelli just under four seconds from Colciago’s pace, one spot ahead of the lone Alfa Romeo of Mario Ferraris.

Race 1 is scheduled to get underway at 17:45 local time, 11:45am CET.