will run the white 2017-spec Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR
in the opening round of the TCR Middle East series at the Dubai Autodrome. A number of improvements have been made to the Italian car by the Romeo Ferraris engineering as are explained by team manager Claudio Bortoletto: “There were many things that were possible to develop, in the chassis, suspension, electronics and so on. We tested the updated car at Vallelunga before Christmas and were very happy with the lap times. Now we need to replace the 1.7-litre engine with the new 2-litre from the Giulia, and we expect to do it by March.” Mulsanne Racing regular Michela Cerruti
will drive in Dubai; this will be her comeback to racing after she was sidelined six months on medical grounds.
The upcoming weekend will be packed with action, as the TCR Middle East Series shares the bill with the 24H Dubai – first round of the 24H Series – and the 3x3H Dubai – promotional event of the 24H Proto Series.
The TCR Middle East Series will hit the track on Thursday, with two 30-minute Practice sessions and a 35-minute Qualifying.
The two back-to-back 60-kilometre races will take place on Friday morning at 9:00 and 11:00 local time.
12 January qualifying:
The 16-year old Luca Engstler (son of Franz) claimed the first pole position ever in the TCR Middle East Series. During the inaugural Qualifying session at Dubai Autodrome, the German teen-ager drove his Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR to a fastest lap of 2:10.133, inflicting a half-a-second gap to his more experienced teammate Mat’o Homola. Homola was on top of the time sheet in the first part of the session when he set a provisional fastest lap of 2:11.290 that he managed to improve to 2:10.632. Brandon Gdovic moved provisionally into second position with a lap of 2:10.759, but was then demoted to third when Engstler posted his pole position time a few minutes before the end. Engstler, Homola and Gdovic meant a brilliant 1-2-3 result for the Liqui Moly Team Engstler.
The Italian duo of Michela Cerruti and Luigi Ferrara was involved in a close fight for the fourth position. Ferrara was clocked at 2:11.059 in the Top Run Subaru that provisionally placed him in second position. A few moments later Cerruti exactly matched Ferrara’s time, but the two of them dropped to fourth and fifth following the improvements by Engstler and Gdovic.
Both Ferrara and Cerruti went out for a final attempt; Michela in the Mulsanne Racing Alfa Romeo Giulietta clocked her own second fastest lap of 2:10.073 that helped her to move up from fifth to fourth
, while Ferrara could not improve. Filip Sládecka ended in sixth place ahead of James Kaye in the CadSpeed Racing Audi. Both Kaye and Kane Astin (Red Camel-Jordans SEAT León) were struggling as the teams had to adapt the cars to the different specs of the TCR Middle East and the 24 hour race in terms of weight, ride height and tyres.