Hungary WTCR: Girolami beats Muller to pole

Munnich Motorsport Honda driver Nestor Girolami claimed pole position for Saturday's opening WTCR race at the Hungaroring with a late effort that displaced long-time leader Yvan Muller.

Hungary WTCR: Girolami beats Muller to pole

Overnight rain meant the track was still damp in patches for Saturday morning's second practice session, but those had cleared by the start of WTCR qualifying at 11.45am local time.

Girolami, who had set the pace in first practice and would have topped FP2 but for his lap being chalked off for track limits, looked on course to usurp Cyan Racing Lynk & Co driver Muller at the head of the order with five minutes remaining.

But the Argentinian aborted that lap and headed back to the Munnich garage before attempting one final run in his Honda.

That decision paid off, as Girolami set a best time of 1m52.586s - beating Muller's previous benchmark by 0.171 seconds - with less than two minutes remaining.

Girolami's teammate Esteban Guerrieri had a scruffier session and only recorded a first timed lap with five minutes left on the clock, but improved on his final run to claim third behind Muller.

Aurelien Panis was an excellent fourth in his Comtoyou Racing Cupra, ahead of Muller's Lynk & Co teammates Yann Ehrlacher and Thed Bjork.

Johan Kristoffersson recorded what was comfortably the best qualifying result for the Sebastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen team at the start of the 2019 season, securing seventh on the grid.

Audi's leading runner was WRT driver Jean-Karl Vernay in eighth, with a late effort from Augusto Farfus (BRC Racing Hyundai) separating Vernay's car from the similar Comtoyou Audi of Frederic Vervisch.

Daniel Haglof (PWR Cupra) and the second Volkswagen of Mehdi Bennani were 11th and 12th, ahead of home favourite Norbert Michelisz and his BRC Hyundai teammate Gabriele Tarquini.

The fourth Lynk & Co of Hungaroring rookie Andy Priaulx was 15th, while Kevin Ceccon was the Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo outfit's lead representative in 19th.

Qualifying results:

Cla Driver Chassis Time Gap
1 Argentina Nestor Girolami
Honda 1'52.586
2 France Yvan Muller
Lynk & Co 1'52.757 0.171
3 Argentina Esteban Guerrieri
Honda 1'52.893 0.307
4 France Aurelien Panis
Seat 1'52.955 0.369
5 France Yann Ehrlacher
Lynk & Co 1'53.042 0.456
6 Sweden Thed Björk
Lynk & Co 1'53.065 0.479
7 Sweden Johan Kristoffersson
Volkswagen 1'53.158 0.572
8 France Jean-Karl Vernay
Audi 1'53.217 0.631
9 Brazil Augusto Farfus
Hyundai 1'53.267 0.681
10 Belgium Frederic Vervisch
Audi 1'53.274 0.688
11 Sweden Daniel Haglof
Seat 1'53.286 0.700
12 Morocco Mehdi Bennani
Volkswagen 1'53.289 0.703
13 Hungary Norbert Michelisz
Hyundai 1'53.290 0.704
14 Italy Gabriele Tarquini
Hyundai 1'53.298 0.712
15 Guernsey Andy Priaulx
Lynk & Co 1'53.397 0.811
16 Spain Mikel Azcona
Seat 1'53.486 0.900
17 United Kingdom Rob Huff
Volkswagen 1'53.496 0.910
18 Hungary Attila Tassi
Honda 1'53.548 0.962
19 Italy Kevin Ceccon
Alfa Romeo 1'53.659 1.073
20 Netherlands Nick Catsburg
Hyundai 1'53.690 1.104
21 China Ma Qing Hua
Alfa Romeo 1'53.780 1.194
22 Netherlands Niels Langeveld
Audi 1'53.845 1.259
23 Portugal Tiago Monteiro
Honda 1'53.903 1.317
24 United Kingdom Gordon Shedden
Audi 1'54.048 1.462
25 Germany Benjamin Leuchter
Volkswagen 1'54.078 1.492
26 Netherlands Tom Coronel
Seat 1'54.213 1.627
27 Tamas Tenke
Seat 1'57.067 4.481
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