Esteban Guerrieri has won the first race of the 2019 World Touring Car Cup season, as the ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport driver went from pole to checkered flag.
The Argentine secured his third WTCR race win after managing his Honda Civic Type-R perfectly from lights to flag, and did not succumb to the pressure from the chasing pack.
The Argentine described how he could ‘control the pace’ at the front, having survived an early attack from Cyan Racing’s Thed Björk at the first corner on the opening lap, when the Lynk & Co driver attempted to pass on the outside line.
“Controlling the speed, the car was great, not a problem. Well, actually I got some yellow lights in one moment, like an alarm, and I was a bit worried but after that it was good.”
The increased track temperature at the Circuit Moulay El Hassan meant an increased focus on conserving tyres and managing engine temperatures during the race.
2017 WTCC champion Björk finished second, unable to mount another attempt to pass Guerrieri after his opening corner move.
“He [Björk] was quite gentlemanly,” explained the race winner, “and left me enough space and he just managed to go behind me.”
From then onwards, the Swede could not find the pace to pass Guerrieri. Björk had earlier been promoted to the front row after teammate Yvan Muller was penalised pre-race for an engine change.
Muller started from the back of the grid, and eventually finished 18th, after damage in qualifying forced the Frenchman to make an engine change to fix a damaged sump.
Néstor Girolami was promoted to third, giving ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport a 1-3 finish.
WRT’s Jean-Karl Vernay finished third on the road, but was handed a five second time penalty after making contact with Cyan Racing’s Andy Priaulx on lap five.
Reigning champion Gabriele Tarquini finished fourth in his BRC Racing Hyundai, ahead of Priaulx who dropped positions following the incident with Vernay.
KCMG Honda driver Tiago Monteiro also benefitted from the Vernay penalty, finishing sixth.
Yann Ehrlacher came home in eighth despite leading a train of cars for much of the race, making it three Lynk & Co cars in the top ten in the marque’s first race.
Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo racer Kevin Ceccon was unable to pass the Cyan Performance car, and BRC Hyundai LUKOIL Racing driver Nicky Catsburg rounded out the top ten.
In attempting to overtake, WTCR rookie Mikel Azcona made contact with BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse driver Norbert Micheliz. The stewards handed the Spaniard a five second penalty meaning a non-scoring finish for the PWR Racing driver.
Local hero Mehdi Benanni had to pit on the opening lap after suffering a puncture on the opening lap.
A similar fate for Aurélien Panis who was fastest in first practice, slowed on lap ten as a puncture forced the Comtoyou Team DHL driver to pit.
Tom Coronel had hit the barrier on the first tour, and had significant damage to the front of his Cupra León TCR. Despite making it back to the pits he was unable to rejoin. The incident involving Coronel and Bennani is to be investigated after the race.
|1||86||Esteban GUERRIERI||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type R TCR||18||26:18.929||1:27.375||1|
|2||11||Thed BJÖRK||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||18||0.638||1:27.343||2|
|3||29||Néstor GIROLAMI||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type R TCR||18||2.181||1:27.366||3|
|4||1||Gabriele TARQUINI||BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse||Hyundai i30 N TCR||18||2.965||1:27.388||5|
|5||111||Andy PRIAULX||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||18||4.298||1:27.480||4|
|6||18||Tiago MONTEIRO||KCMG||Honda Civic Type R TCR||18||4.973||1:27.293||7|
|7||69||Jean-Karl VERNAY||Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||18||5.805||1:27.220||6|
|8||68||Yann EHRLACHER||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||18||11.855||1:27.622||8|
|9||31||Kevin CECCON||Team Mulsanne||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||18||13.049||1:27.522||10|
|10||88||Nicky CATSBURG||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team||Hyundai i30 N TCR||18||13.693||1:27.687||12|
|11||5||Norbert MICHELISZ||BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse||Hyundai i30 N TCR||18||14.907||1:27.660||11|
|12||12||Rob HUFF||SLR VW Motorsport||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||18||15.439||1:27.695||15|
|13||22||Frédéric VERVISCH||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||18||15.860||1:27.433||23|
|14||8||Augusto FARFUS||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team||Hyundai i30 N TCR||18||16.253||1:27.406||16|
|15||52||Gordon SHEDDEN||Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||18||16.936||1:27.459||22|
|16||96||Mikel AZCONA||PWR Racing||CUPRA TCR||18||17.304||1:27.615||13|
|17||33||Benjamin LEUCHTER||SLR Volkswagen||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||18||20.688||1:27.742||24|
|18||100||Yvan MULLER||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||18||50.213||1:28.039||26|
|19||9||Attila TASSI||KCMG||Honda Civic Type R TCR||18||51.898||1:26.970||25|
|20||37||Daniel HAGLÖF||PWR Racing||CUPRA TCR||18||1:16.351||1:27.379||9|
|R||10||Niels LANGEVELD||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||13||DNF||1:27.824||17|
|R||21||Aurélien PANIS||Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing||CUPRA TCR||10||DNF||1:28.050||14|
|R||55||Ma QING HUA||Team Mulsanne||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||8||DNF||1:27.594||21|
|R||14||Johan KRISTOFFERSSON||SLR Volkswagen||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||2||DNF||N/A||19|
|R||25||Mehdi BENNANI||SLR VW Motorsport||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||1||DNF||N/A||20|
|R||50||Tom CORONEL||Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing||CUPRA TCR||1||DNF||N/A||18|