Gianni Morbidelli claims his first pole position of the year in Germany
Gianni Morbidelli took his first pole position of the season for WestCoast Racing at Oschersleben, the sixth of his career and his first since Imola in 2016, outqualifying Team WRT’s Jaap van Lagen by two-tenths of a second, with Dan Lloyd third in the Craft-Bamboo Racing SEAT.
The Italian had topped the second free practice session, and followed this pace through into qualifying, topping Qualifying 1, before also leading the way in Qualifying 2, setting two fast laps in the 1:31s right at the start of the session to set a clear pole position.
Morbidelli’s closest challenger was the rival Volkswagen Golf of Jaap van Lagen, while Dan Lloyd was also a close threat in the SEAT, just a few hundredths further behind at the end of the ten minute Qualifying 2 heat.
Rob Huff would qualify fourth in the #3 Volkswagen of Team WRT, while team-mate and title contender Jean-Karl Vernay put in a late improvement to leap from 11th to ninth, securing a front row spot for the reversed grid second race.
Vernay’s improvement dropped 17-year-old Luca Engstler outside of the top ten, with the German relegated to 11th on the grid for both of tomorrow’s races, unable to improve after stopping on circuit in the final minutes.
Pepe Oriola was fifth, while Morbidelli’s WestCoast team-mate Giacomo Altoè was sixth, qualifying ahead of the SEAT of James Nash’s, while Roberto Colciago was the only Honda to make the top 12.
Colciago’s team-mate and championship leader Attila Tassi failed to get out of Qualifying 1, with the 18-year-old Hungarian only able to go 13th fastest in his Honda Civic TCR, carrying 30kg of ballast this weekend after his double win three weeks ago.
The two Comtoyou Racing Audis also struggled, with Frédéric Vervisch 16th and two-time champion Stefano Comini 18th fastest at the twisty German circuit.
Mat’o Homola finished qualifying in tenth position in the DG Sport Compétition Opel Astra, and will start Race 2 from pole position ahead of Vernay and Colciago.
Race 1 is scheduled for 12:35 CET on Sunday with Race 2 at 14:35 CET.