Yann Ehrlacher inherits win after Tom Chilton penalised

Yann Ehrlacher inherits win after Tom Chilton penalised

Yann Ehrlacher
Photo: Francois Flamand / DPPI

Yann Ehrlacher inherited victory in the Opening World Touring Car Championship race, after the winner on the road, Tom Chilton, was hit with a five-second penalty for causing a collision with the LADA racer at the start.

At the start of the race it was pole-sitter Ehrlacher who led into Turn 1, but contact from Sébastien Loeb Racing’s Chilton further around the lap at Turn 5 pushed the LADA driver wide and allowed Chilton to take the lead.

Ehrlacher slotted into second ahead of the second Loeb Racing Citroën of Mehdi Bennani and Polestar’s Thed Björk.

On lap two, with Chilton starting to pull out a lead at the front, Björk lost out to Campos Racing’s Esteban Guerrieri, who moved into fourth. The Volvo driver tried to retake the position on lap five but went wide in the process, losing out to team-mates Nicky Catsburg, Néstor Girolami and Honda’s Tiago Monteiro.

With two laps to go in the race the stewards decided to hand out a five-second time penalty to Chilton for the contact with Ehrlacher, leaving the Brit with a desperate race against time to extend the lead, which at that stage was 2.8 seconds.

In the end Chilton couldn’t extend his margin enough, eking out just another six tenths of a second which left him in fouth.

That penalty therefore handed Ehrlacher a first win in the WTCC, ahead of Bennani and Guerrieri, who completed the podium on home soil.

Behind fourth-placed Chilton was the leading manufacturer driver of Monteiro, who had earlier in the race made contact with team-mate Norbert Michelisz that left the Hungarian with a front-left puncture and no points.

Björk took the chequered flag in sixth, and he was the only Volvo driver to be within the points as Catsburg picked up a late-race puncture on lap seven and Girolami retired from the race when his S60 suffered from technical issues and came to a standstill in the final sector.

Münnich Motorsport’s Rob Huff finished in seventh after making up more places than any other driver in the field, ahead of the third SLR Citroën of John Filippi in eighth.

ROAL Motorsport’s Tom Coronel and Honda’s Ryo Michigami completed the top ten, with the latter securing his second points finish of the season despite starting the race from the back of the grid after an engine change penalty.

The second RC Motorsport LADA of Kevin Gleason just missed out on the points in 11th, ahead of Zengő Motorsport duo Dániel Nagy and Zsolt Szabó.

In the championship battle, the non-score for Michelisz and Catsburg means that Monteiro has extended his points lead over Björk to eight points, with Catsburg now 18 points adrift and Bennani passing Michelisz for fourth in the standings.

The Main Race takes place at 16:15 local time (20:15 BST, 21:15 CEST).

Race result

168TYann EHRLACHERRC MotorsportLADA Vesta WTCC1119:23.9911:45.1471
225TMehdi BENNANISébastien Loeb RacingCitroën C-Elysée WTCC110.7261:45.0433
386TEsteban GUERRIERICampos RacingChevrolet RML Cruze TC1111.3261:44.9896
43TTom CHILTONSébastien Loeb RacingCitroën C-Elysée WTCC111.5731:44.8322
518Tiago MONTEIROHonda Racing Team JASHonda Civic WTCC111.6771:44.8347
662Thed BJÖRKPolestar Cyan RacingVolvo S60 Polestar112.3221:44.7275
712TRob HUFFALL-INKL.COM Münnich MotorsportCitroën C-Elysée WTCC113.6681:45.23412
827TJohn FILIPPISébastien Loeb RacingCitroën C-Elysée WTCC1110.3691:46.01110
99TTom CORONELROAL MotorsportChevrolet RML Cruze TC11110.961:45.97311
1034Ryo MICHIGAMIHonda Racing Team JASHonda Civic WTCC1111.3791:46.11916
1124TKevin GLEASONRC MotorsportLADA Vesta WTCC1114.0361:46.22415
1299TDániel NAGYZengő Motorsport KftHonda Civic WTCC1121.4521:46.84913
1366TZsolt Dávid SZABÓZengő Motorsport KftHonda Civic WTCC1122.9721:46.92514
145Norbert MICHELISZHonda Racing Team JASHonda Civic WTCC10+ 1 Lap1:45.5898
R63Nicky CATSBURGPolestar Cyan RacingVolvo S60 Polestar7DNF1:44.7579
R61Néstor GIROLAMIPolestar Cyan RacingVolvo S60 Polestar6DNF1:44.9244