Szymon Ladniak storms to final TCR Germany pole of the year at Hockenheim

Szymon Ladniak set a blistering pace in the final TCR Germany qualifying session of the year, leading a Team Engstler Honda one-two at Hockenheim.

The winner of Saturday’s penultimate race of the season produced an outstanding performance throughout the session, and was never challenged as he set a time of 1:47.496.

He ended up a full eight-tenths of a second clear of team-mate and series champion Martin Andersen, while the Comtoyou Racing Audi RS 3 LMS of Jessica Bäckman was the only other driver less than one second adrift.

The evening qualifying session meant that, while sunset affected general visibility, the track conditions were at their optimum temperature and that was demonstrated by the benchmarks rapidly being lowered.

Ladniak was the first to set a representative time of 1:48. 196, some three-tenths of a second faster than Andersen in second, but this time would be blown to pieces by the Pole before the chequered flag flew.

After suffering a miserable weekend so far, Bäckman bounced back from a suspected suspension failure in the opening race to line up third on the grid for Sunday’s finale. The Audi driver, who is vying for the runner-up spot in the championship with Ladniak, initially trailed her rival by four-tenths and ended up just a few thousandths behind Andersen at the end of the session.

Vincent Radermecker will start fourth in his Maurer Motorsport Holden, keeping his strong weekend form up as he aims to make amends for a mechanical drama that cost him a race one podium on the final lap.

A quartet of Hyundais then followed, with ROJA Motorsport’s Robin Jahr heading NordPass’s Jonas Karklys, who was unable to replicated his Friday evening qualifying pace and could only manage sixth. The remaining ROJA Hyundai Velosters of Tim Rölleke and René Kircher were seventh and eighth respectively.

Max Gruhn and Patrick Sing completed the top 10.

But up at the front, there was no stopping the dominant Ladniak.

Andersen had got to within a couple of tenths of Ladniak’s time, but the latter went out for his penultimate lap of the session and set the fastest first and last sectors to lower the benchmark to a 1:47.504.

Not content with being the ultimate fastest in two of the three sectors, Ladniak made sure he was the driver to beat around the entire Hockenheimring by improving again on his final tour, this time setting the fastest first and middle sectors.

That time had been one second clear of Andersen, but the champion made a last-ditch effort to jump back ahead of Bäckman to secure a place on the front row of the grid, while Bäckman improved her time but not her position to remain third.

The final race of the TCR Germany season is scheduled to take place tomorrow at 11:35 CET.