Honda’s Esteban Guerrieri admits he was lucky to save a huge slide in the opening World Touring Car Championship race in Japan, when contact from Volvo’s Thed Björk pitched him into a 90-degree slide.
Guerrieri sought to benefit when Polestar Cyan Racing’s Björk lined up a pass on RC Motorsport’s Yann Ehrlacher on the ninth lap of the race.
Ehrlacher had been running in second, with Björk and Guerrieri in close quarters. The Volvo briefly got past Ehrlacher exiting Turn 4, allowing Guerrieri to follow past both of them.
However, contact between Björk and Guerrieri two turns later pitched the Honda into a huge 90-degree slide, which the Argentine was amazingly able to save with only slight further contact against the Swede.
Meanwhile, Ehrlacher got back through to retake second – and Guerrieri believes he could have had a podium if it wasn’t for the contact, which instead meant he had to settle for fourth.
“I just saw the [incident] on my phone and I was totally 90 degrees when Thed hit me,” explained Guerrieri. “It was a nice battle and until then, I was just trying to save my tyres.
“He was trying to overtake Yann, so I took profit from the fight they were having in front of me and I attacked on the inside in Turn 4 or Turn 5. It was tight, but it was okay, and we exited side-by-side.
“I knew I had the correct line, which was the outside line, which had more grip and then I had the inside line for next corner. He didn’t want to lift and went on the gravel and when you go over gravel in the wet you don’t really lose grip.
“He came to me afterwards and said it was his mistake but, for me, I could have had a P2 and instead I had a P3. I was lucky to keep the car with full throttle and then managed to get it back.”
Guerrieri joked that if he had not saved the slide he might have been able to help team-mate Norbert Michelisz’s title aspirations even further.
“For sure he would have got a penalty and no points, which was not good for him and his championship. I’m sorry Norbi; in the end I managed to save it but I think it was too much from his side.”
Guerrieri added that if Honda need him to act as a substitute driver again in the future, he would gladly stand-in once again. The Argentine does not currently feature on the entry list for the next round in Macau, but he is expected to return to Campos Racing for the season finale in Qatar.
“I’m happy with the performance I’ve put in this weekend and if Honda need me again in the future, I’d love to do some more with them.”