Photo: Duda Bairros/TCR South America

Ignacio Montenegro claims close Velopark pole position

Ignacio Montenegro of Squadra Martino claimed pole position for the eighth round of the 2023 TCR South America season at Velopark in Brazil.

The session took place on a dry track, despite the rain hampering the free practice sessions in the morning. The Q1 started with the entire 16-car field taking to the track, with Montenegro leading the initial stages.

Paladini Racing driver Fabián Yannantuoni (Toyota Corolla TCR) spun on the track ten minutes into the session, recovering on his own power.

Pedro Cardoso, at the wheel of a Hyundai Elantra N TCR, took the top spot, with Rafael Suzuki, with a Lynk & Co 03 TCR from PMO Motorsport, climbing to first position with four minutes to go.

Adalberto Baptista (Toyota) of Cobra Racing also made a mistake and spun on the track with two minutes to the end of the Q1, hitting Cupra driver Raphael Reis who was on a flying lap. The Cupra driver sustained left-front damage, but was able to make it to Q2.

Juan Manuel Casella, driving a Honda Civic Type R TCR from Squadra Martino, was fastest in Q1.

Montenegro led the initial stages of the Q2 session, with Lynk & Co driver Rafael Suzuki stealing the top spot, before the red flag was out as Enrique Maglione of Squadra Martino went wide and crashed heavily into the barriers.

“I went a bit too fast and then went wide,” said Maglione, who was unhurt. “As I went on the grass, the car did aquaplaning because of all the standing water, lost grip and rolled over. But I’m ok, the safety was good.”

The Q2 was restarted with 6:24 left on the clock. Montenegro pulled a quick effort to take the first position by just 0.016 seconds ahead of Suzuki.

Yannantuoni stopped on the track with two minutes to go due to a technical issue, with a new red flag waving at Velopark.

The field returned to the track with just enough time for one flying lap. Montenegro improved his lap time to 58.892, increasing his advantage over Suzuki to 0.043 seconds.

Third was Bernardo Llaver of Toyota Team Argentina, followed by Juan Manuel Casella, driving the second Honda Civic Type R TCR from Squadra Martino.

Juan Angel Rosso of Paladini Racing was fifth, followed by Pedro Cardoso, driving a Hyundai Elantra N TCR from Scuderia Chiarelli.

Maglione qualified in seventh place, ahead of Manuel Sapag. Reis could only manage ninth position after the second red flag hampered his last attempt, with Yannantuoni completing the top ten.

“Very happy to have scored the pole position at a track new for us, and also after having the rain in the free practice,” Montenegro said after the session. “So we are happy and looking forward to tomorrow.”

The TCR South America field returns to the track on Sunday morning for Race 1, scheduled at 09:10 local time (14:10 CEST).