Overnight rain ensured a wet start to the day’s first track action. But despite the surface appearing to dry over the course of the half-hour session, it was Luca Engstler’s early time of 1m56.941s – 16s shy of yesterday’s dry pace – that earned Germany provisional pole.
However, a subsequent engine change would drop the Hyundai to the back of Race 1’s grid and hand Russia’s Klim Gavrilov pole position. The Audi starts alongside Mato Homola’s Hyundai after both drivers also set their fastest times early in the session.
A post-practice engine change also ensured Ka To Jim’s fourth quickest time counted for nothing. Instead, the United Kingdom’s Rory Butcher will start third, two places ahead of where he qualified, while the Netherlands’ Tom Coronel lines up alongside.
John Filippi’s Team France Cupra joined Audi, Hyundai, MG and Honda in the top-five, while Gilles Magnus (Belgium) starts sixth.
Russia came within less than a minute of claiming two pole positions before Gilles Magnus’ late flyer handed Team Belgium top spot for tomorrow’s Touring Car Cup race.
Klim Gavrilov spent much of the 30-minute session on top of the pile after twice lowering the provisional pole time. However, it was Magnus – who’d remained his main rival throughout – that ultimately topped the times courtesy of the fastest time of the weekend: 1m40.235s.
Gavrilov finished 0.495s behind but, with medals decided on the basis of points scored in both races, will be content with a second front row start.
Tom Coronel added third to his earlier fourth place to also keep Netherlands firmly in gold medal contention after knocking Slovakia’s Mato Homola down to fourth, while Faine Kahia (New Zealand) and Jessica Backmann (Sweden) saved their best qualifying performances for the second session.