Luca Engstler snares pole in Dubai

Luca Engstler will start the opening race of round two of the TCR Middle East Series in from pole position after leading the way in qualifying at the Dubai Autodrome.

Engstler, winner of the second race in Abu Dhabi during the season-opener, produced an astonishing performance in the session to become the first driver this weekend to break the 1min 45secs marker.

The German driver had earlier paced both free practice sessions, but no-one was able to get close when the qualifying session kicked off, with second placed Giacomo Altoè more than six-tenths of a second behind.

The pair are now level on points after Engstler outqualified Altoè, although Altoè carries 30kg of additional ballast into this weekend on his Audi RS 3 LMS, with Engstler’s VW Golf carrying an extra 20kg having been a point behind following the Abu Dhabi meeting.

Behind the two title rivals, Kai Jordan was third quickest ahead of Danny Kroes and Mat’o Homola – the only other drivers able to get within a second of Engstler’s benchmark time.

As in Abu Dhabi, Costas Papantonis secured pole for race two after setting the tenth best time, albeit only because of a suspension issue that prevented Lorenzo Veglia from setting a representative time.

Veglia had been the winner of race two on the road in Abu Dhabi before being handed a penalty afterwards for contact with Engstler.