Girolami in Vila Real qualifying top three as Tassi gets a front row
Two Honda Civic Type R TCR drivers will start in the top three in Sunday’s WTCR - FIA World Touring Car Cup races at Vila Real after Nestor Girolami and Attila Tassi both made the top 10 in qualifying.
In a demanding, 75-minute long qualifying session, Nestor was the fastest of the Honda Racing drivers and made the Q3 pole position shootout thanks to an improvement in the dying stages of Q2 that put him fourth.
Once in the shootout he went one better, securing third place on the grid for the 30 minutes plus one lap Race One.
Team-mate Esteban Guerrieri was restricted to 14th in his ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Civic Type R TCR, falling in the first part of qualifying having struck a wall on his second run.
The Argentinian, who was ninth in FP2, looked a top-10 contender after the first runs but was shuffled down the order as lap times improved in the 30-minute long Q1.
There was better fortune for LIQUI MOLY Team Engstler driver Attila, who equalled his best qualifying result of the season.
On the streets where he claimed his maiden WTCR pole position three years ago, Attila showed excellent speed and was third in Q1 before recording the ninth-fastest time in Q2.
That result gives him second on the partially reversed grid for Race Two - the 100th race since the WTCR’s inception - and a second chance of the 2022 season to win a race, having been taken out at the start in Pau the last time he lined up in that grid slot.
Tiago Monteiro came agonisingly close to joining team-mate Attila in Q2, falling just 0.042 seconds shy of advancing from Q1 as he recorded the 13th-fastest time.
At his home event, Tiago dug in deep in qualifying but, despite the best efforts of him and his crew - who were able to send the car out for a fourth run in Q1 - there was to be no fairytale for the Portuguese driver, who again was unable to find the optimum set-up for his Civic Type R TCR.
As well as the WTCR’s 100th-race milestone, the Vila Real round is also the first to feature the joker lap since the most recent visit to the street circuit in 2019, with each driver having to take the alternative, longer route once during each race.