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Qualifying report: No stopping Nagy in ETCC

2017-06-25

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Norbert Nagy repeated his heroic qualifying effort of 12 months again to land top spot on the grid for the first of two races at FIA ETCC Race of Vila Real tomorrow.

While street tracks aren’t traditionally known for their high-speed layouts, Vila Real breaks the mould in several sections. Nagy, from Hungary, said that by latching on to Fulín’s slipstream and being effectively towed along for parts of the lap, he was able to go faster than his Czech rival.

“It’s because of the slipstream so thanks to Fulín!” said Nagy, who was leading from pole in Vila Real last season until he hit trouble. “We didn’t have to search any set-up, as we use the one from last year. It was easy, everything is the same from last year, but the slipstream was better.”

Nagy was on course to convert his pole to into victory in Vila Real last June when disaster struck, meaning revenge will be high on the agenda on race day. “Our starts were not the best so far this year so I have to concentrate very hard. This is good revenge for me after the puncture.”

Although Fulín was pipped for first place by his fellow SEAT driver, the two bonus points he earned for his qualifying charge puts him one point ahead of Christjohannes Schreiber in the title standings after a bearing issue that plagued him during the morning was rectified.

“It was crazy because my mirror during the 30 minutes was full of Norbi,” said Fulín. “I was very frustrated by this but I think the second position is good and it’s important points for my season.”

There was also frustration for Lein Racing’s Fábio Mota and ETCC leader Christjohannes Schreiber (Rikli Motorsport), albeit for entirely different reasons. Mota qualified a fine third for this home race only to be stripped of his times following a weight check infringement, while Swiss Schreiber finished up in fifth position and with a broken engine in his Honda Civic.

“I’m extremely disappointed,” said Schreiber. “After failures at the Nordschleife, bad luck is following us also here. A hose in my cooling system tore off and I immediately lost all the liquid. I believe the engine is finished, although our mechanics are trying to save it.”

Mota’s woe let in his compatriot José Rodrigues for third on his ETCC debut in a Target Competition Honda despite reported top-speed issues. Nordschleife winner Igor Stefanovski (Macedonia) was fourth following driveshaft repairs, Schreiber fifth and Germany’s Andreas Pfister sixth in his self-run SEAT. Bulgarian Audi driver Plamen Kralev ended up seventh with Peter Rikli languishing in eighth, one place in front of Mladen Lalušić from Serbia. Anett György posted P10 in her Zengő Motorsport entry but it proved a tough session for team-mate Zsolt Dávid Szabó, who crashed backwards into a barrier early in the session after a bout of oversteer.

Sunday’s races will each be held over 11 laps with Race 1 scheduled for 11h45 local time and Race 2 from 13h00.