Esteban Guerrieri and ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport remain firmly in the hunt for the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Championship after qualifying on the front row for the season finale.
With his Honda Civic Type R TCR team-mate Nestor Girolami securing third place in the Race One starting order and second on Race Two’s partially-reversed grid, the German team have a driver in the top three for each of Sunday’s races.
An ultra-close battle ensured somebody was going to end Race One qualifying disappointed. Unfortunately for Esteban, who was less than 0.3 seconds slower than third-placed team-mate Nestor, it was him in 10th spot.
Numerous set-up changes were applied to the Civic, all of which were to Esteban’s liking, and he set his best times in night qualifying to ensure he’ll start the final race of the season from second place and Race Two from ninth.
Nestor, by contrast, showed excellent speed in the daytime session to qualify third, and added ninth place at night; meaning he starts there for the finale, and inherits second spot for Race Two.
The day’s qualifying results mean that Esteban is now 15 points away from the series lead with 75 available from Sunday’s three races, while Münnich have cut the gap in the Team’s Championship from 88 points to 81 with 135 remaining and their key rivals behind them on the grid for all three races.
Attila Tassi secured the best qualifying position for a KCMG driver at Sepang; the young Hungarian brilliantly going ninth-fastest in the opening session of night qualifying before being denied a shot at the reversed-grid pole when he was impeded by a rival.
That left him 12th, but in with a great chance of a double top-10 finish. His result was a testament to an in-depth debrief after a first session in which he qualified 21st.
Team-mate Tiago Monteiro showed top-10 pace in both practice sessions, but lost his chance of a reversed-grid pole by making a mistake at the final corner on his fastest lap. He starts Race One 14th and the other two from 16th.
Making his front-wheel-drive race debut as a wildcard, KC Motorgroup’s Joao Paulo de Oliveira impressed by qualifying best of the Hong Kong team’s trio of drivers in 13th place for Race One, but fell foul of a spinning rival and a full-course yellow in the first part of the night session to seal an unrepresentative 25th.