Ehrlacher unhappy with qualifying as Lynk & Co cars struggle for straightline pace

Yann Ehrlacher was not impressed to qualify eleventh for the first ever TCR World Tour race at Algarve, and also miss out on a reversed-grid front row.

The Lynk & Co Cyan Racing driver did not set a flying lap until late on in the second segment of qualifying on Saturday, and so had only one opportunity to improve after he put his first time on the board.

But he failed to do so, and ended up 0.448 seconds off pole but more crucially 0.019s behind team-mate Santiago Urrutia who by going tenth fastest claimed the reversed-grid pole for Race 2.

TouringCarTimes asked Ehrlacher what he made of his pace, and his team’s strategy for the all-important qualifying session.

“Pffftttttt. Well, yeah, you know, let me think… no actually we were targeting P10,” he replied. “We didn’t have the pace to go quicker than this, so we decided to go for P10, because of reversed grid.

“Actually not P10, but front row let’s say. But missed out by two hundredths of a second. Yeah, it was tough. I mean it was very close, much closer than what we expected. But I played a game.

“I could have been in the bottom part of the top ten with no problem, I would say, but I went all in to target this top ten and more precisely the [race two] front row. Because we know we struggle with speed deficit.

“So it was for us quite natural to go for a front row, at least for one race to secure big points. But yeah, P11, two hundredths, so it’s shit for the two races. I will need to fight back quite hard. Don’t know what to say. Bit frustrating.”

Ma Qing Hua was the fastest of the drivers in a Lynk & Co 03 TCR, qualifying sixth. Thed Björk was eighth, with Urrutia tenth and Ehrlacher eleventh in Cyan Racing’s quartet of cars. MA:GP’s rookie Viktor Andersson qualified 15th in his Lynk & Co car.

Ehrlacher put the majority of his pace deficit down to lacking straightline speed.

“Of course we are not where we want in terms of the potential of the car in every sector. But our main deficit is definitely in the top speed, and that costs us a lot in the races to be able to overtake cars. So for sure that’s our main focus at the moment to improve. But at some point it’s something we can’t really improve ourselves.

“That’s why we try to find ways to get around it, by positioning on the track and stuff, because we know if we are in the front we might have a better chance.

“Now I’m in the middle of the pack. It’s the first time I’ve experienced the TCR Europe grid. I’ve watched it on television, and I’m always like ‘woah, I really don’t want to be in the middle of the pack in TCR Europe’. That’s exactly where I will be for two races, so not really looking forward to it.”

Despite his difficult start to the inaugural TCR World Tour campaign, Ehrlacher sees potential in himself and the car to perform well this weekend.

“Actually we have done a lot of development on the car. For sure there is always things you can do better, I mean it’s a new model, but we are close to the best we can achieve at the moment.

“So I’m a bit worried, to be honest, because I expected us to be way quicker than this. I think if we put it all together we could be like in the bottom half of the top ten, so we could have secured a top ten. But we are not there for the win at the moment. A proper win, I don’t mean about reversed-grid win, which means nothing at my age.

“I will provide some show [in the races, that’s no doubt, just not the place I want to be.”