Photo: TCR South America

Yann Ehrlacher fastest again as Hondas fail to show true pace in FP2 at La Pedrera

Cyan Racing’s Yann Ehrlacher topped a wild second TCR World Tour practice session at Argentina’s La Pedrera circuit stopped multiple times.

BRC Racing’s Mikel Azcona was the driver to beat at first, setting an early 1:48.166 which kept him on top for almost a third of the half-hour session. Initially Palaini Racing’s Juan Ángel Rosso was closest, but over three seconds slower, then BRC team-mate Norbert Michelisz reduced Azcona’s advantage to two seconds.

Ehrlacher went to the top with a 1:47.053 before red flags were waved as his team-mate Ma Qing Hua went off. The Chinese driver slid off into the barriers with the rear end of his car, leaving the Cyan Racing mechanics with a race against time ahead of qualifying.

Many drivers had snuck in quick laps just before the session was stopped, with Michelisz improving in third while Cyan trio Thed Björk, Hua and Santiago Urrutia filled positions four to six. Only two other drivers had lapped sub-1:50 at this point.

The session restarted but there was only five minutes before red flags waved again, and in that time Azcona was able to get within 0.443s of Ehrlacher and Comtoyou Racing’s Frédéric Vervisch jumped from eighth to third with a 1:48.162. However outside the top 10, every driver was more than 11s off the pace.

That improved slightly before the next stoppage, with just under nine minutes left on the clock, with the top 16 covered by 6.838s while the remaining eight drivers were all still unable to get within 11s of Ehrlacher’s benchmark laptime.

In the final three minutes a flurry of improvements started to come in towards the lower end of the timesheet, occupied primarily by the TCR South America drivers, and Toyota Team Argentina’s Bernardo Llaver jumped from 12th to sixth. Cobra Racing Team’s Diego Nunes improved in 10th to get within 2.316s of Ehrlacher, but then after the chequered flag he and the TCR World Tour regulars went faster.

Ehrlacher ended practice with a 1:46.316, putting him 0.604s and 0.822s respectively ahead of Azcona and Michelisz who improved on their final efforts. Urrutia bettered Björk for fourth, both over 1.2s off their team-mate, and Scuderia Chiarelli’s Pedro Cardoso was the top TCR South America driver in sixth by 0.368s over Llaver.

Vervisch was demoted to eighth and the last driver within two seconds of the pace, and Esteban Guerrieri’s last lap brought him up to ninth.

Néstor Girolami was the top Honda driver in 11th, 2.123s slower than Ehrlacher, while none of the other Honda drivers – all run by Squadra Martino – lapped at a representative pace and they only set two or three laps in total. Enrique Maglione was next best in 22nd, 14.068s off the pace, and Fabio Casagrande propped up the timesheet 44.872s slower than Ehrlacher.

Qualifying starts at 11:05 local time/16:05 CEST.