TCR International Series: Pole for Morbidelli at Buriram
Gianni Morbidelli (West Coast Racing) set the fastest lap-time at Chang International Circuit at Buriram, Thailand and secured the pole position for the first race of the TCR International Series to be held tomorrow. Morbidelli, who is fourth in the championsip classification, will start ahead of his title rivals Pepe Oriola (Craft Bamboo Lukoil) and team-mate Kevin Gleason.
Jordi Gene (Craft Bamboo Lukoil), who is third in the championship, will start from fifth, while championship leader Stefano Comini (Target Competition) qualified only in the ninth spot. Due to a reversed grid, Comini will start from the front row in Race 2, along with Hugo Valente in Campos Racing Opel Astra OPC.
For the races at Buriram, Morbidelli got an all-new JAS Motorsport-built Honda Civic TCR Step 2 and he used the new car in the best possible way. He was fastest in both qualifying rounds, with the fastest lap-time in the second session improved to 1.43.423, 0.178s faster than Oriola.
With four points earned in the qualifying, Oriola closed the gap from championship leader Comini to 7 points. Jordi Gene is 29 points behind Comini, while Morbidelli is 42 points behind the leader. Fifth placed Kevin Gleason also has a chance, from a purely mathematical point of view, at winning the title.
In the first qualifying session, all the title contenders were in the Top 12. Local driver Munkong Sathienthirakul ranked twelfth with Craft-Bamboo Seat Leon and he was the first TCR Asia competitor to win a place for Q2. Robb Holland and Alain Menu were struggling with the issues plaguing their cars.
The American driver in the Ford Focus of FRD Hong Kong Raacing Team was placed in an encouraging 15th place in the early stages, but had to pit for repairs. This prevented him from improving; eventually he was demoted to the 21st position.
Menu, on the other hand, sat in the pit for most of the session while the Top Run team was working on his Subaru STi TCR; finally he was able to join in time to clock only one flying lap which placed him in the 15th spot. The session was disrupted once by the red flag, but only for a few minutes, to recover Filipe de Souza’s Seat which was beached onto the gravel trap at Turn 3.
Just like in Q1, Morbidelli did not waste time and tyres, he claimed pole position with a single flying lap of 1:43.423. Pepe Oriola completed his fastest lap just before the ten-minute leg expired and jumped to second slot.
Kevin Gleason was third, ahead of Sergey Afanasyev and Jordi Gene. Mikhail Grachev and Lorenzo Veglia , both drivers of Liqui Moly Team Engstler, but in different cars, were sixth and seventh respectively. Target Competition Seat Leons of Loris Hezemans and Stefao Comini was eighth and ninth, while Hugo Valente qualified in tenth and won pole position for Race 2.
Check all the results at SnapLap result pages.