Austrian racer Harald Proczyk achieved an outstanding – and unexpected – result by emerging as the fastest driver in Qualifying at the wheel of his WestCoast Racing Honda Civic car in his maiden appearance in the TCR International Series.
Proczyk, who had already won a TCR race in the German series with his SEAT, benefited from the changing conditions at the Salzburgring that grew worse during the session as the rain intensified. He was the first to admit that this result was due more to that fact than to his control of the car.
However, Proczyk lost his right to start from pole position, just as Gianni Morbidelli lost his fourth place on the grid for tomorrow’s Race 1. Both drivers were given a penalty of two positions on the grid because their cars were standing in the fast lane during the session. As a result, Jean-Karl Vernay inherited the pole position and Pepe Oriola will start from the second spot. Proczyk will start third, with Morbidelli sixth behind Jordi Oriola and Dušan Borković.
These grid penalties did not change the Qualifying results; Proczyk retains the pole position as far as points scoring and statistics are concerned.
Some of the championship’s main contenders struggled with different issues: Stefano Comini and James Nash were hampered by technical problems, while Mat’o Homola paid for a mistake in the early part of the session.
On his first outing for Mulsanne Racing, Petr Fulín placed his Alfa Romeo Giulietta in eighth, the best result so far for the Italian car. His teammate Michela Cerruti did not take part in the session, as her Giulietta was sidelined by engine problems that were the consequence of her trip into the gravel trap during this morning’s first Practice.
Attila Tassi and Mikhail Grachev qualified in tenth and ninth respectively and will be on the front row of the top-ten reversed grid for Race 2.
The first race will start tomorrow at 12:35 local time, over a distance of 15 laps.
Q1: 1-2 for WestCoast Racing
First a red flag and then the rain spoiled this part of the session and eventually the chances of Stefano Comini and James Nash to make the cut for Q2.
The red flag was waved in the early stages, after a double incident at Turn 1 that saw Davit Kajaia’s Volkswagen stranded in the gravel trap and Mat’o Homola’s SEAT hitting the barriers.
When the session resumed, the crew of the B3 Racing Team managed to replace the front splitter on Homola’s car. In the meantime, the Slovak’s teammate Attila Tassi had posted a fastest lap of 1:26.682 that was not to be beaten, as rain poured down with nine minutes left.
Comini was one of the few to make a qualifying attempt after he had missed the dry part of the session while his team was working to replace the gearbox. However, on the wet track the Swiss could not clock a good enough time to advance to Q2.
Davit Kajaia, who had rejoined and set the 12th fastest lap, was later excluded for having received external aid after his incident at Turn 1, and this handed his teammate Florian Janits the last spot for Q2. As for Nash, his car suffered from transmission problems, which sidelined him for almost the entire session.
The following drivers made the cut: Tassi, P. Oriola, Morbidelli, Afanasyev, Borković, J. Oriola, Grachev, Vernay, Fulín, Proczyk, Homola and Janits .
Q2: Proczyk claims surprise result
Newcomer Harald Proczyk surprisingly emerged as the fastest driver in a Q2 that was flooded by pouring rain. The Austrian was the first driver to hit the track and set a time of 1:38.923 that he managed to improve on the following lap to 1:38.767. Soon afterwards the rain intensified, making it impossible for the other drivers to go faster than that.
Jean-Karl Vernay (1:39.079) and Pepe Oriola (1:39.359) secured the second and third places on the grid, while a last gasp improvement from Sergey Afanasyev granted him the seventh place and demoted Mat’o Homola from 10th to 11th, stripping him of the pole position on the reverse grid for Race 2.
Quotes from the fastest qualifiers
Harald Proczyk (fastest): “I think we were very lucky today; we were out at exactly the right moment and the conditions changed immediately afterwards. I tried to go faster later on, but it was not possible. The car is working well and we did a good job in both Practice sessions. The Honda is a strong car, particularly here, but it takes a few sessions before you can get the best out of any car. I hope tomorrow it will be dry because I was sideways about five times. When it rains, it’s dangerous at the Salzburgring and so I hope it’s dry for us to have two good races.”
Jean-Karl Vernay (second): “We thought we would be fighting for P10 and so our aim was just to go through to Q2. We were lucky in that we did a good lap time in Q1 before the rain came and in Q2 we did the same. I was close behind Proczyk and then Pepe and that’s when I did my best lap. After that, the weather got worse and worse with every lap. I hope that it rains tomorrow or that we have a wet track because otherwise it will be very tough for us. The problem for us is not from the BoP, but the SEAT and the Honda have had a lot of work and our car is still new. We have to improve the aero package to be able to fight with the other guys.”
Pepe Oriola (third): “I’m really happy – Gianni is behind me and Stefano didn’t make it into Q2, so for the Championship it’s really good. Without the mistake on my first lap, I think I could have been on pole position. I said to myself that I was going to wait to brake for the first corner, but I braked too late. After that, every lap was worse and worse. Towards the end of the session, I was aquaplaning; it will be very difficult if it’s like that for the races. I don’t mind if it rains tomorrow, but I hope it’s not as much rain as today.”
F1 and GP2 cars to entertain spectators at Salzburgring
Tomorrow the spectators who will come to the Salzburgring for the Austrian round of the TCR International Series will be treated to a special show from a couple of single-seaters: a Formula 1 Toro Rosso and a Top-Speed GP2.
The cars will make two appearances on the track, before the first TCR race and between the two races.
19 year old Chris Höher, the 2015 champion of the FIA Formula 3 Central European Zone, will be at the wheel of the Dallara GP2/08 car, while the 2006 F1 Toro Rosso STR1-Cosworth will be driven by Ingo Gerstl from Salzburg who is the current leader of the Boss GP Series following three victories out of four races.