In much dryer conditions than we had seen yesterday, Esteban Guerrieri controlled the opening World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) race of the weekend to take victory at the Hungaroring.
Guerrieri got away well from the starting grid, but the same could not be said for his fellow front-row starter Mikel Azcona. After showing great pace in qualifying, the Spaniard found himself down in eighth by the end of lap one as everyone else swarmed past him.
Championship points leader Yann Ehrlacher was the main beneficiary, moving up to second place just behind title rival Guerrieri.
Ehrlacher’s Cyan Racing team-mate Yvan Muller had looked set to act as rear-gunner in this race, but Néstor Girolami had other plans. Fuelled by the frustration of Slovakia, the Argentine made his way up into third place through turn five.
Azcona, meanwhile, was looking to pull off another charge back up the order. A bruising battle with Jean-Karl Vernay earned him seventh place through turn four, and it wasn’t long before the CUPRA driver had latched onto the back of sixth-placed Santiago Urrutia.
With Guerrieri unable to scamper away into the distance, the top eight had bunched right up by the halfway point in the race.
Azcona tried to go around the outside of Urrutia at turn one as a result, but a stern defence from the Uruguayan kept his Lynk & Co in front for the time being.
Elsewhere, there were mechanical woes for Hyundai, with both Gabriele Tarquini and Norbert Michelisz retiring to the pit-lane.
Back with the leading group, Azcona finally managed to get ahead of Urrutia for sixth at the beginning of lap eight. After setting himself up on the inside line of turn one, he managed to pull alongside Urrutia, sweeping ahead of him before the entry to turn two.
With Michelisz sidelined, it was up to Attila Tassi to fly the flag for Hungary. However, the youngster was the next driver on Azcona’s list of targets. Again, Azcona looked to set up a tidy switchback overtake at turn two, but unlike Urrutia before him, Tassi managed to hang onto track position on the inside line.
Onto the final lap, little could seemingly be done about the status quo at the very front. Everyone in the top four was within striking range of each other, but with so much on the line in the points standings, nobody wanted to risk a dubious overtake.
And so, Guerrieri took the chequered flag, promoting him up to second place in the drivers’ championship, while the Argentine’s main rival Ehrlacher finished second on the road to maintain his lead of the series.
Girolami completed the podium for Münnich Motorsport ahead of Muller and Tassi in fourth and fifth.
Azcona will be kicking himself after crossing the line in sixth. The pace in his Zengő Motorsport CUPRA is there for all to see, and had he not botched the start, he could very well have been in contention for race victory.
Urrutia fought off the advances of Vernay for seventh, while Luca Engstler did manage to get his Hyundai to the end of the race, finishing ninth.
Thed Björk rounded out the top ten for Cyan Racing, just ahead of Tom Coronel in eleventh. Coronel had started the race as the second-best placed driver in the overall standings, but this underwhelming result had seen him drop to third.
Bence Boldizs managed to stay out of trouble in sixteenth, but will be hoping for better things in race two thanks to pole position for the reversed grid second race of the day.
Race two gets underway at 12:15 CEST (11:15 BST).
|1||86||Esteban GUERRIERI||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR||12||23:12.376||1:55.071||1|
|2||68||Yann EHRLACHER||Cyan Racing||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||12||0.500||1:55.046||3|
|3||29||Néstor GIROLAMI||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR||12||1.105||1:55.029||7|
|4||100||Yvan MULLER||Cyan Racing||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||12||1.759||1:54.658||6|
|5||9||Attila TASSI||ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR||12||2.318||1:54.691||5|
|6||96||Mikel AZCONA||Zengő Motorsport||CUPRA Leon Competición||12||2.619||1:54.629||2|
|7||12||Santiago URRUTIA||Cyan Performance||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||12||3.608||1:54.851||8|
|8||69||Jean-Karl VERNAY||Team Mulsanne||Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR||12||4.223||1:54.557||9|
|9||8||Luca ENGSTLER||Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team||Hyundai i30 N TCR||12||4.514||1:54.502||12|
|10||11||Thed BJÖRK||Cyan Performance||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||12||5.412||1:54.666||14|
|11||31||Tom CORONEL||Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||12||8.956||1:54.847||17|
|12||17||Nathanaël BERTHON||Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||12||9.201||1:54.600||10|
|13||25||Luca FILIPPI||Team Mulsanne||Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR||12||9.658||1:54.957||16|
|14||18||Tiago MONTEIRO||ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR||12||9.939||1:54.733||4|
|15||16||Gilles MAGNUS||Comtoyou Racing||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||12||11.147||1:54.816||21|
|16||55||Bence BOLDIZS||Zengő Motorsport||CUPRA Leon Competición||12||12.346||1:55.309||11|
|17||34||Aurélien COMTE||Vuković Motorsport||Renault Mégane RS TCR||12||12.718||1:54.911||22|
|18||97||Nicolas GRUBER||Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team||Hyundai i30 N TCR||12||21.417||1:55.778||19|
|19||28||José Manuel SAPAG||Target Competition||Hyundai i30 N TCR||12||34.758||1:55.921||18|
|20||99||Gábor KISMARTY-LECHNER||Zengő Motorsport||CUPRA Leon Competición||12||40.052||1:56.730||20|
|21||1||Norbert MICHELISZ||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse||Hyundai i30 N TCR||11||+ 1 LAP||1:53.620||15|
|R||30||Gabriele TARQUINI||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse||Hyundai i30 N TCR||8||DNF||1:54.685||13|