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Qualifying report: Szabó heads all-Hungarian ETCC front row

2017-05-12

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Zsolt Dávid Szabó will start his home round of the FIA European Touring Car Cup from pole position after Alexandr Artemyev was excluded for failing to stop at a compulsory weight check during qualifying at the Hungaroring.

While it proved a frustrating afternoon for the Kazakhstan driver on his return to ETCC action, there was further cause for local celebration with Norbert Nagy joining his compatriot and Zengő Motorsport team-mate Szabó on the front row of the grid for an all-Hungarian 1-2.

Christjohannes Schreiber boosted his title chances with third place in his Rikli Motorsport Honda but it was a frustrating afternoon for close rivals, team-mate Peter Rikli and SEAT-driving Křenek Motorsport driver Petr Fulín. Rikli could do no better than seventh during a warm and dry qualifying session, while Fulín was excluded for not observing the black and white driving standards flag, which was shown for several breaches of the track limits.

Artemyev appeared to have snatched pole from Szabó by 0.400s in the closing moments of the session but his penalty puts him to the back of the grid and leaves his fellow SEAT driver to take his first ETCC pole despite brake problems. “I had brake issues and that’s why in the first laps it was difficult to find my braking points,” said Szabó. “After that I felt it would be worse and worse. That’s why my first lap was the best and I couldn’t improve it. I did a little mistake in Turn 12 but it was a good lap in general and I’m happy as it’s my first race at this track in this car.”

Prior to his exclusion, Artemyev had been pleased with his performance: “I was here for the Volkswagen Golf Cup before and in ETCC once in 2015 so the track is not so new to me although I don’t have that much experience here. I like it, it’s a good track and I was able to increase my speed about although there was not enough grip.”

Igor Stefanovski will start Sunday’s first race in fourth place in his self-run SEAT with another driver/team owner, Andreas Pfister, fifth. Plamen Kralev is sixth in his Kraf Racing Audi, one place ahead of Rikli. Lein Racing’s Fábio Mota is eighth followed by Anett György and Mladen Lalušić. ETCC rookie Rudolf Pesovic is next.

 Sunday’s races take place over 12 laps with Race 1 due to begin at 09h00 followed by Race 2 at 10h05. Both races are live on Eurosport 2 and at FIAETCC.com.