Esteban Guerrieri opens up quickest in Hungary

Honda driver Esteban Guerrieri topped the times in the opening free practice session for the latest rounds of the World Touring Car Cup at the Hungaroring.

Wet conditions greeted the teams for the opening session of the weekend, with the early laps being a full twelve seconds off the lap record as drivers looked to try and find any grip on the slippery surface, with the likes of debutant Nico Gruber and his Engstler Motorsport team-mate Luca Engstler having sideways moments and Gilles Magnus running off track at turn two.

Esteban Guerrieri was the early pace-setter at the wheel of his Honda Civic Type R ahead of compatriot Néstor Girolami before the Audi of Nathanael Berthon split the pair with just over half an hour of running remaining.

Guerrieri became the first driver to dip below the 2:06s mark to put himself nearly a second quicker than points leader Yann Ehrlacher after he slotted the #68 Lynk & Co into P2.

As the session passed the half way stage Mikel Azcona moved up into second spot in the leading Zengő Motorsport-run Cupra León Competición TCR and both Gabriele Tarquini and Thed Björk moved to within a second of Guerrieri’s benchmark.

Gabriele Tarquini and Nestor Girolami then jumped ahead of Björk but Guerrieri’s laptime looked to be set as the session best as others struggled to jump ahead of the Honda.

Both Guerrieri and team-mate Girolami would take a gamble on slick tyres – with the latter trying a combination of slicks on the front and wets on the rear. Conditions remained too wet for the gamble to pay off however, as Girolami found himself lapping more than 30 seconds off the pace.

However, heading into the final two minutes, Gilles Magnus suddenly went purple in the first sector to suggest that a new quick time could be on the card, but he then lost time in sectors two and three meaning that he could only go up to fourth.

As a result, Guerrieri ended up with the quickest time ahead of Azcona and Berthon, with a gap of half a second then back to Magnus in fourth.

Tarquini was best of the Hyundai drivers in fifth from Girolami – driving the test car this weekend after his Münnich Motorsport race car was damaged in Slovakia last week – with Björk the fastest of the Lynk & Co drivers in seventh.

Tiago Monteiro and points leader Ehrlacher followed behind with Tom Coronel, currently second in the standings after his strong showing last weekend, in 14th.

Wildcard entrant Manuel Jose Sapag was 21st having suffered a lurid slide late on in his Hyundai. That left him just behind Gruber, who steps in for the absent Nicky Catsburg this weekend.