Pepe Oriola romps to pole position at Ningbo

Pepe Oriola has taken pole position for the main race of the China Touring Car Championship race weekend at Ningbo, leading the way ahead of his Ford team-mate Andy Yan, with Oriola on his second international wild card outing of the season for the Changan Ford team.

The Spaniard had already led the way through both of Friday’s free practice sessions in the Changan FRD Team-run Ford Focus, and quickly set the pace in qualifying, laying down a time of 1:50.253, eight-tenths of a second ahead of the other international wild card of Alex Fontana. The Kia driver’s lap time was soon deleted due to track limits however, which then left Oriola over a second clear of the field.

Oriola’s Ford team-mate Andy Yan soon moved up to second, just under half a second behind him, while Rodolfo Avila put himself in third in the SAIC Volkswagen 333 Racing Lamando GTS.

On his second run, Avila closed to within three-tenths of Oriola’s time with just over half the session to go, splitting the two Ford drivers.

Jim Ka To then went third quickest in his Ford, just a fraction behind Avila’s time, and with Ford team-mate Rainey He fifth.

Oriola then improved upon his own time with a lap of 1:50.163 with just under five minutes remaining to seal pole position, with team-mate and three-time champion Andy Yan improving to put himself in second place, securing a Ford 1-2.

With no other improvements in the session, that left Oriola on pole, with four Fords in the top five, with Avila’s Volkswagen splitting the group in third.

The best-placed of the Kias was Martin Cao in sixth, just ahead of the two BAIC Senovas of David and Juan Carlos Zhu.

Championship leader Zhang Zhen Dong’s Volkswagen was ninth, followed by the Kia K3 2.0T of Alex Fontana

The main race takes place at 11:35 CST (05:35 CEST) on Sunday, but the reversed grid sprint race gets underway later today at 14:00 CST (08:00 CEST).