Esteban Guerreri staged a remarkable recovery to put his ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R on pole position for a crucial WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup race on the fabled streets of Macau on Friday.
The Argentinian, who leads the championship with just six races remaining, hauled his car into 10th place in the second part of the three-stage afternoon qualifying session, sealing pole on Race 2’s partially-reversed grid by less than a tenth of a second.
The achievement was a remarkable turnaround for last year’s Macau race winner, who qualified 13th for Saturday’s opener, but was then sent to the back of the grid after his team decided to replace a down-on-power engine that had been losing him up to one second of laptime in the flat-out blast along Macau’s shoreline section.
Team-mate Nestor Girolami qualified 18th in the morning and did exactly the same later on; each time providing Esteban with a tow to assist his title hopes.
Having never driven a TCR machine at Macau before Thursday, he was comfortable with his improvement in 24 hours.
KCMG’s Tiago Monteiro starts Saturday’s opener from 15th place, and was confident of making the top 10 in the afternoon and featuring in the reversed-grid mix.
Unfortunately for the Portuguese driver, the winner of Macau’s Guia Race in 2016, a succession of yellow and red flags prevented him from setting a single representative time and limited him to 26th.
Team-mate Attila Tassi, like Tiago, was appearing at Macau for the first time in three years. Recovering from a practice incident, he qualified 22nd in the morning and improved to 17th later in the day.
KC Motorgroup’s wildcard entry, driven by Hong Kong’s Jim Ka To, qualified 27th for the opening race. Ka To, however, was involved in a collision in the afternoon session without having set a laptime, and will have to receive special dispensation to start on Sunday.
Team TRC’s wildcard drivers endured a tough day. James Tang was the fastest of them and went 29th and 28th, despite a spin in the final minute of the opening section of the afternoon running. However, neither lap was fast enough to make the grid for the races.
Terence Tse crashed in both the morning and the afternoon and did not set a laptime fast enough to surpass the 107 per cent qualifying mark either. Following Friday practice, Arthur Law opted not to take part in today’s sessions.