Thed Björk took his first World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) race win of the year in race three, leading home Santiago Urrutia for a Cyan Racing 1-2 at Motorland Aragón.
Bence Boldizs’ race was over before it had even started however, just as had been the case in race two as his CUPRA struggled with electrical issues.
When the starting lights went out, Gilles Magnus’s getaway wasn’t quick enough from pole position, and so the young Belgian was swamped by the two Lynk & Cos of Björk and Urrutia.
Magnus wasn’t about to concede without a fight though, and managed to hustle his way back ahead of Urrutia two corners later.
But while the battle for second heated up, there was trouble further back. Luca Engstler misjudged his braking point at the penultimate bend, causing his Hyundai to lock-up its brakes and fishtail into the side of an innocent Néstor Girolami.
With their two cars stranded on track, the first safety car of the day was called for. Proceedings would get back underway fairly quickly however, with Björk leading the way.
After daring to dream about title contention following victory in race one, Jean-Karl Vernay was keen to maximise his points tally from this race after retiring from race two.
However, Gabriele Tarquini wasn’t driving according to Vernay’s script, and managed to get by the Frenchman for fifth position.
Aurélien Comte’s day then went from bad to worse, as he pulled his Renault to the side of the road with collapsed front-right suspension.
Up at the front though there was a change for second place. After a hard-fought tussle through corners 7-10, Magnus eventually had to concede to Urrutia.
In the midfield, there was more drama, but this time of the mechanical kind. At turn eight, Attila Tassi’s Honda suffered an engine blow-up, while Yvan Muller also began to suffer from a loss of power.
With an eye on aiding Yann Ehrlacher’s title push, Muller made it as difficult as possible for Esteban Guerrieri to overtake him for ninth. The Frenchman succeeded in his plans to hamper the Argentine, as both Josh Files and Tom Coronel managed to get by the pair of them, costing Guerrieri a handful of points.
Björk and Urrutia, meanwhile, had begun to scamper away in the lead of the race, but behind them there was a close battle for third.
Having dispatched with Nathanael Berthon, Tarquini had Magnus in his sights. On lap eleven at the penultimate bend, the veteran Italian finally made his move to get up into the final podium spot.
Ehrlacher’s Lynk & Co then developed the same power troubles as his team-mate Muller’s, with the championship leader gradually dropping down the order. However, title rival Guerrieri was still mired at the back, so the damage done to Ehrlacher’s points lead wasn’t as severe as it might have been.
So, while two Cyan Racing cars faltered, the other two looked untouchable. With relative ease, Björk would lead home Urrutia for a Lynk & Co 1-2 finish; the latter of the pair claiming his third podium result of the day.
Tarquini ended the race on the podiumas well in what was a rare highlight from a torrid season for the veteran. Berthon, meanwhile, passed Magnus for fourth.
Vernay would have hoped for slightly better than sixth in this race as he chips away at Ehrlacher’s championship lead, while race two winner Mikel Azcona finished just behind in seventh.
Eighth place marked a positive end to Josh Files’ tricky debut WTCR event, beating Tom Coronel in ninth and Guerrieri in tenth.
With only sixteen classified finishers, Ehrlacher was at least able to stumble across the line in twelfth, picking up a few vital points in the process.
The Frenchman’s championship lead still remains relatively strong however, with now a 26-point deficit to the Argentine heading into the final round.
Vernay, meanwhile, remains in striking range, albeit 42 points behind the series leader.
|1||11||Thed BJÖRK||Cyan Performance||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||14||30:41.713||2:07.757||2|
|2||12||Santiago URRUTIA||Cyan Performance||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||14||0.565||2:08.219||3|
|3||30||Gabriele TARQUINI||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse||Hyundai i30 N TCR||14||6.783||2:08.012||8|
|4||17||Nathanaël BERTHON||Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||14||8.240||2:08.129||4|
|5||16||Gilles MAGNUS||Comtoyou Racing||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||14||9.139||2:08.225||1|
|6||69||Jean-Karl VERNAY||Team Mulsanne||Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR||14||10.159||2:08.670||5|
|7||96||Mikel AZCONA||Zengő Motorsport||CUPRA Leon Competición||14||10.751||2:08.538||10|
|8||40||Josh FILES||Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team||Hyundai i30 N TCR||14||16.768||2:09.049||17|
|9||31||Tom CORONEL||Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||14||17.354||2:08.985||18|
|10||86||Esteban GUERRIERI||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR||14||23.807||2:09.104||19|
|11||15||Nicolas BAERT||Comtoyou Racing||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||14||33.427||2:09.416||16|
|12||68||Yann EHRLACHER||Cyan Racing||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||14||33.546||2:08.469||13|
|13||99||Gábor KISMARTY-LECHNER||Zengő Motorsport||CUPRA Leon Competición||14||40.712||2:09.968||21|
|14||100||Yvan MULLER||Cyan Racing||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||14||59.064||2:08.932||7|
|15||55||Bence BOLDIZS||Zengő Motorsport||CUPRA Leon Competición||14||1:36.471||2:08.017||12|
|16||1||Norbert MICHELISZ||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse||Hyundai i30 N TCR||12||+ 2 LAPS||2:07.800||6|
|R||9||Attila TASSI||ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR||6||DNF||2:08.918||20|
|R||34||Aurélien COMTE||Vuković Motorsport||Renault Mégane RS TCR||5||DNF||2:10.038||15|
|R||8||Luca ENGSTLER||Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team||Hyundai i30 N TCR||1||DNF||N/A||9|
|R||29||Néstor GIROLAMI||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR||0||DNF||N/A||11|
|R||18||Tiago MONTEIRO||ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR||0||DNF||N/A||14|