Yann Ehrlacher takes victory as Yvan Muller and Norbert Michelisz collide

Yann Ehrlacher takes victory as Yvan Muller and Norbert Michelisz collide

WTCR Zandvoort start
Photo: Francois Flamand / DPPI

Münnich Motorsport’s Yann Ehrlacher claimed his second victory of the season in the opening FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) race at Zandvoort, as further back a clash between Yvan Muller and Norbert Michelisz caused a race stoppage.

At the start pole-sitter Rob Huff made a poor getaway as the Brit struggled with holding his clutch for a lengthy grid formation, allowing Ehrlacher in the Honda to get into the lead.

However, the racing would not last for long as an already bad day for Hyundai was compounded when BRC racing’s Norbert Michelisz and YMR’s Yvan Muller came together after just three corners, resulting in both cars crashing out and Muller’s car perched on top of the barriers.

That required the race to be suspended for half an hour, as neither Muller nor Michelisz’s i30 N could be removed without a crane, and barrier repairs were then required.

“It’s a shame to do something like that – to break a car for 20th place,” said a furious Muller. “It’s a bit crazy – I don’t know why he did that, but he did it and that’s the result.”

When the race resumed, Ehrlacher was able to get away from DG Sport’s Aurélien Comte to claim his second win of the season, whilst Comte held on to second to secure the best position for the Peugeot 308 in WTCR.

Sébastien Loeb Racing’s Huff held on to the final podium position, despite pressure from the Audi of Gordon Shedden, with the Leopard Lukoil driver making a botched attempt at Turn 1 on the tenth lap, only to outbrake himself and allow Huff back through with slight contact.

Shedden held on to finish fourth ahead of Audi Sport team-mate Jean-Karl Vernay in fifth, whilst the second Münnich Motorsport Honda of Esteban Guerrieri was sixth.

Dutch favourite Tom Coronel took seventh, ahead of the Sébastien Loeb Racing’s Mehdi Bennani in eighth.

The top ten was completed by Comtoyou Racing duo Nathanaël Berthon and Aurélien Panis. Their team-mate Frédéric Vervisch would have been inside the top ten but the Belgian stopped on track after the first lap of racing at the restart, having gone off whilst battling with Benjamin Lessennes.

Lessennes would later receive a drive-through penalty for a jump start, along with Prince Bernhard van Oranje, dropping the Boutsen Ginion driver to 19th.

None of the Hyundai drivers finished in the points, with Thed Björk the only finisher down in 14th position after Gabriele Tarquini retired to the pits whilst running in 22nd position.

A late race one-lap safety car period would be required when Zsolt Szabó came together on lap 11, with Giovanardi ending up in the wall at Turn 3 and out of the race.

Ehrlacher’s win elevates the Frenchman to joint second in the points standings, after the top four Hyundai drivers failed to score in the race.

Qualifying for races two and three takes place at 08:30 CEST (07:30 BST) on Monday.

Race result

POS NO DRIVER NAT ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME BEST GD
1 68 Yann EHRLACHER ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR 14 14 LAPS 1:45.901 2
2 7 Aurélien COMTE DG Sport Compétition Peugeot 308 TCR 14 1.217 1:46.713 7
3 12 Rob HUFF Sébastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 14 1.566 1:46.551 1
4 52 Gordon SHEDDEN Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team Audi RS3 LMS 14 1.879 1:46.329 3
5 69 Jean-Karl VERNAY Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team Audi RS3 LMS 14 2.440 1:46.387 4
6 86 Esteban GUERRIERI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR 14 5.280 1:46.827 10
7 9 Tom CORONEL Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda Civic Type R TCR 14 5.816 1:47.410 8
8 25 Mehdi BENNANI Sébastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 14 6.665 1:47.259 11
9 23 Nathanaël BERTHON Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS 14 7.044 1:47.365 6
10 21 Aurélien PANIS Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS 14 8.120 1:47.414 12
11 20 Denis DUPONT Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS 14 8.586 1:47.105 13
12 15 James THOMPSON ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR 14 8.896 1:46.995 14
13 10 Gianni MORBIDELLI Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR 14 9.383 1:47.233 15
14 11 Thed BJÖRK YMR Hyundai i30 N TCR 14 9.918 1:47.185 18
15 27 John FILIPPI Team Oscaro by Campos Racing CUPRA TCR 14 10.371 1:47.260 17
16 66 Zsolt Dávid SZABÓ Zengő Motorsport CUPRA TCR 14 11.022 1:46.803 26
17 8 Norbert NAGY Zengő Motorsport CUPRA TCR 14 12.440 1:46.831 23
18 70 Mat’o HOMOLA DG Sport Compétition Peugeot 308 TCR 14 13.216 1:48.349 22
19 63 Benjamin LESSENNES Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda Civic Type R TCR 14 13.424 1:46.908 5
20 3 Michael VERHAGEN Bas Koeten Racing Audi RS3 LMS 14 15.384 1:47.932 25
21 2 Bernhard VAN ORANJE NASSAU Bas Koeten Racing Audi RS3 LMS 14 16.364 1:48.232 27
R 88 Fabrizio GIOVANARDI Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR 10 DNF 1:47.344 20
R 74 Pepe ORIOLA Team Oscaro by Campos Racing CUPRA TCR 10 DNF 1:47.146 16
R 30 Gabriele TARQUINI BRC Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR 8 DNF 1:48.006 24
R 22 Frédéric VERVISCH Audi Sport Team Comtoyou Audi RS3 LMS 3 DNF 2:45.122 9
R 5 Norbert MICHELISZ BRC Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR 0 DNF N/A 19
R 48 Yvan MULLER YMR Hyundai i30 N TCR 0 DNF N/A 21