Photo: Macau GP

Yann Ehrlacher surprised by sudden spike in top speed deficit

Yann Ehrlacher has admitted surprise at the amount of time his Lynk & Co Cyan Racing team is losing to its main rivals along Macau’s extensive straight, as the Frenchman bids for the inaugural TCR World Tour title in this weekend’s season-finale.

Ehrlacher qualified third for the opening race of the weekend, some three tenths down on the leading BRC Hyundai cars that have dominated the opening two days of action at the Guia street track.

Title rival Norbert Michelisz clinched pole position to snatch a slender championship lead, while the Hungarian’s team-mate Mikel Azcona originally took second but has since been demoted to fifth following a penalty for impeding final championship contender Rob Huff (Audi Sport Team Comtoyou).

That promotes Ehrlacher onto the front row alongside Michelisz as Race 1 approaches on Saturday – but the Frenchman is wary of his chances after admitting to a surprisingly big top speed deficit to the Hyundai cars.

“We leave six tenths in sector one, which is flat,” Ehrlacher explained to TouringCarTimes.

“We have always had a (top) speed disadvantage compared to the Audi and the Honda, but never this much to the Hyundai, so I’m a bit surprised. We have been losing two tenths all weekend, and suddenly they took a big step in Q2.

“Maybe they dropped the wing or had a mega tow, but I also had a mega tow from (team-mate) Thed (Björk), and we’re six tenths off in sector one.”

Ehrlacher is the only of the three title contenders to carry compensation weight this weekend, taking the maximum 40kg due to recent strong qualifying performances in the Australian leg of the TCR World Tour.

He consequently expects the Macau races to be a challenge, but is similarly aware that anything can happen on the infamous Chinese street course – especially in a title showdown so tense.

“In Macau you have to expect everything and nothing,” Ehrlacher said. “The others keep surprising us all the time with new things. I will be surprised of nothing here.

“We know we have a top speed deficit. The start will be difficult because of that long straight. We need a bit of luck to be honest.

“We will try our best and see what we can do on the set-up, but we’re already in a position where we can’t take off more wing because we also need the (cornering) stability on the mountain. It is going to be tough, but I will just focus on my job and the things I can manage.”

Ehrlacher enters Race 1 in Macau six points behind leader Michelisz, and four ahead of Huff.