Lights-to-flag victory for Néstor Girolami in WTCR season opener

Nestor Girolami converted pole position into victory in the opening round of the FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) at Circuit Zolder.

The Argentine made a good start from reverse-grid pole and held Thed Bjork’s Cyan Racing-run Lynk & Co. at arm’s length for the duration, taking the chequered flag some 1.127 seconds clear.

A boisterous move at the first corner promoted Attila Tassi to third past Jean-Karl Vernay’s Alfa Romeo Giulietta, and the Hungarian duly kicked off his sophomore season in the category with his maiden podium.

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It proved to be a real race of contrasts for the Münnich Motorsport squad, with two drivers on the podium, and two out of the race with seemingly identical suspected turbo failures.

Esteban Guerrieri’s Honda was the first to let go, with Tiago Monteiro following suit a few laps later.

Tom Coronel looked the only man likely to change the order of the top four in the closing stages, but couldn’t quite pose a threat to Tassi’s third position on board the Comtoyou Racing Audi RS 3 LMS.

He took fourth, with Vernay eventually fifth after re-grouping from a difficult start.

Santiago Urrutia headed team mates Yann Ehrlacher and Yvan Muller as all four Lynk & Co. cars made it into the top eight.

Race two pole-sitter and erstwhile points leader Nathanael Berthon was ninth, leading team mate Gilles Magnus, who rounds out the top ten.

Reigning WTCR champion Norbert Michelisz was eleventh in the leading Hyundai i30 N TCR for BRC Racing, surviving a moment of contact with Luca Engstler on the run down to the Kleine chicane, the German eventually settling for 12th.

Dylan O’Keefe was 13th; team mate Jack Young had earlier run just behind on his WTCR debut, but slipped back late on and was forced to pit with a lap to run.

Nicky Catsburg and Gabriele Tarquini’s Hyundai i30 N challengers round out the points finishers in 14th and 15th.

The final race of the weekend is set to get underway at 13:15 (BST).

Race result

POS NO DRIVER NAT ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME BEST GD
1 29 Néstor GIROLAMI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 13 21:17.425 1:37.207 1
2 11 Thed BJÖRK Cyan Performance Lynk & Co 03 TCR 13 1.127 1:37.283 3
3 9 Attila TASSI ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 13 1.844 1:37.327 4
4 31 Tom CORONEL Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 13 2.072 1:37.306 5
5 69 Jean-Karl VERNAY Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR 13 4.632 1:37.469 2
6 12 Santiago URRUTIA Cyan Performance Lynk & Co 03 TCR 13 6.050 1:37.393 7
7 68 Yann EHRLACHER Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 03 TCR 13 6.674 1:37.560 9
8 100 Yvan MULLER Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 03 TCR 13 7.382 1:37.395 6
9 17 Nathanaël BERTHON Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 13 7.794 1:37.312 10
10 16 Gilles MAGNUS Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR 13 12.585 1:37.486 8
11 1 Norbert MICHELISZ BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse Hyundai i30 N TCR 13 15.513 1:37.869 12
12 8 Luca ENGSTLER Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR 13 16.085 1:37.892 14
13 33 Dylan O’KEEFFE Vuković Motorsport Renault Mégane RS TCR 13 18.135 1:38.120 13
14 88 Nicky CATSBURG Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR 13 21.572 1:37.885 20
15 30 Gabriele TARQUINI BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse Hyundai i30 N TCR 13 23.527 1:38.200 15
16 96 Mikel AZCONA Zengő Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición 13 25.323 1:38.531 19
17 55 Bence BOLDIZS Zengő Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición 13 31.621 1:38.981 18
18 25 Luca FILIPPI Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR 13 34.240 1:38.628 22
19 99 Gábor KISMARTY-LECHNER Zengő Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición 13 50.562 1:40.108 21
R 7 Jack YOUNG Vuković Motorsport Renault Mégane RS TCR 12 DNF 1:38.839 16
R 18 Tiago MONTEIRO ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 7 DNF 1:37.970 17
R 86 Esteban GUERRIERI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 2 DNF 1:38.360 11
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