Attila Tassi rockets to best time in opening practice
Attila Tassi posted the quickest time in the opening practice session for the second round of the World Touring Car Cup at the Nürburgring.
Hyundai’s decision to withdraw the four cars being run by customer outfits BRC Racing and Team Engstler – and the lack of any wild card entries – means a 16 car entry for the weekend, with all of the cars streaming straight out of the pits when the green flag flew to start the session.
Whilst most of the field did a lap of the Grand Prix circuit before then returning to the pits, the Hondas of Nestor Girolami and Tassi instead headed straight off onto the Nordschleife – the lack of spectators around the fearsome circuit providing a somewhat surreal backdrop to proceedings.
The two Hondas would complete a single out lap before returning to the pits rather than going off for a second run to set a time.
Instead it was fellow Honda driver Tiago Monteiro who posted the first timed lap of the session with a 9:11.656, but Tom Coronel then put his Audi up into P1 as he set a time of 9:03.426 with Thed Björk slotting his Lynk & Co into second.
Gilles Magnus was on a quick lap behind however, going purple in sectors three and four before becoming the first driver in the session to go below the nine minute mark – more than four seconds up on Coronel but with others going quicker still behind.
That included the Lynk & Cos of Yann Ehrlacher and Yvan Muller, both of which dipped below Magnus’ quickest time although the third car in the train – Santiago Urrutia – lost time with a trip across the gravel on the GP circuit and couldn’t keep pace with the pair ahead.
Magnus looked set to go back to the top of the times on his second lap as he went fastest in sectors two and three but lost time in sector four when he came up behind the Cupra of Gábor Kismarty-Lechner and then ran wide and put a wheel onto the grass at Schwalbenschwanz.
It meant that when the Belgian driver crossed the line, he would be just 0.044s slower than Ehrlacher’s benchmark before heading back into the pits.
As the chequered flag dropped to conclude the session, a number of drivers were still on quick laps, although rookie Jack Young wasn’t amongst them after spinning the sole Renault into the gravel on the Grand Prix circuit.
Girolami was the first driver to take the chequered flag but ended up nine tenths of a second off Ehlarcher’s benchmark before Tassi crossed the line to go under the qualifying lap record with an 8:54.552.
That put the Hungarian driver nearly a second clear of anyone else ahead of the short turnaround prior to the start of FP2.
Aside from Young’s spin into the gravel, both Bence Bolidzs and Kismarty-Lechner were left with work to do on the times, with the former lapping 42 seconds off the pace and the latter nearly two minutes down as they tackled the Nordschleife for the first time.