René Münnich lapped the 5.39km Dubai Autodrome in 2m 08.935s to take his third consecutive front row start of the 2019 24H Middle East Championship, which draws to a close this weekend.
The 30-minute qualifying session for the Hankook 4H Dubai also marked the third time in succession that René Münnich has pipped the Red Camel-Jordans.nl Cupra TCR DSG (#101, Ivo Breukers / Luc Breukers / Yusif Bassil) to the TCR top spot, despite notably trickier conditions on-track.
The ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport team owner admitted that the challenge from the Dutch team would undoubtedly be stronger on the series’ second visit to the Dubai Autodrome in three weeks.
Münnich said: “It’s a lot more sandy and dusty on-track than it was two weeks ago. Yesterday in particular was very bad because you just couldn’t get the grip. I would say this race is going to be much tougher as the times were a lot closer in qualifying. But it’s going to be fun.”
Although troubled by turbo issues during yesterday’s Free Practice session, Red Camel-Jordans.nl will start alongside the #77 Honda on the front row.
Luc Breukers anticipating a close fight for victory this weekend said: “Yesterday in free practice, a turbo oil seal broke, so all the oil went into the exhaust and there was a lot of smoke and a bit of fire. We were up late into the night fixing it, and we’re really happy to be P2 in qualifying. I’d love a win this weekend, but the ALL-INKL car is so quick, it’s going to be tough. Of course you never know what could happen during these races.”
The Zengő Motorsport Cupra TCR DSG meanwhile (#10, Tamás Horváth / Gábor Kismarty-Lechner) claimed the third fastest time in qualifying, just ahead of its sister #8 entry (Zoltán Zengő / Csaba Tóth). The team will be hoping for a clean race in Dubai after drivetrain issues blighted the team last time out in Abu Dhabi.
Team owner Zoltan Zengő in particular was very grateful to fellow Cupra runners Red Camel-Jordans.nl for the loan of a replacement engine shortly before Free Practice got underway.
Zoltan Zengő said: “We’re feeling very good about this race. So far the cars are working well, and I would like to say a big, big thank you to Red Camel for the spare engine. We’re looking forward to an exciting race.”
For the second consecutive weekend, Zengő Motorsport – which secured compatriot Norbert Michelisz the Yokohama Drivers' Trophy in the World Touring Car Championship in 2012 and 2015 – enters a dual-CUPRA TCR line-up for the event, and expects a tight race between its two cars.
Zoltan Zengő continued: “There’s a friendly rivalry this weekend between our drivers Tamás Horváth and Gábor Kismarty-Lechner. They are friends, they partnered together at the Hankook 24H Dubai, they’ve very young, and they’re very fast. This could get interesting.” By Melissa Warren