Estoril continued to provide plenty of action in what turned out to be a rollercoaster Feature Race for the FIA World Touring Car Cup this afternoon. Attila Tassi eventually brought his Honda home to take victory, though Münnich Motorsport will be leaving the circuit with mixed emotions after strife for all three of their other drivers.
After the tussle between Tiago Monteiro and Esteban Guerrieri in Race One, it was expected that the two Honda stablemates would continue that rivalry from the front row of the grid in this feature race. However, that particular storyline lasted just a few seconds, as polesitter Guerrieri missed the start lights go out as he was distracted by concerns relating to his car’s anti-lag system.
This gave Monteiro an easy route into the lead for turn one, as team-mate Tassi followed him through into second. Behind, Jean-Karl Vernay made it into third, but again was complaining on the radio of contact from behind.
Further around the lap, there was considerably heavier contact, however. Nathanaël Berthon ran wide through the exit of Parabolica Interior, and when he rejoined the circuit, Mikel Azcona took excessively sharp avoiding action which forced him into the side of Tom Coronel. The collision span Coronel out into the barriers, resulting in the second safety car period of the day.
The race got going again after just a single lap though, and Monteiro looked relatively comfortable at the head of the field.
Further back, Guerrieri was amongst the hoard of Audi and CUPRA drivers, who have been struggling with their equipment since the start of the season. He wasn’t the last of the Honda quartet though. Néstor Girolami – who had been scheduled to start from third on the grid – started from the back instead, after requesting to neutralise parc fermé conditions so that repairs could be made to his car after Race One.
As such, the two Argentines were scrabbling to even get back inside the top fifteen points-paying positions. Meanwhile in the top ten, the Lynk & Co and Hyundai contingent were battling two-by-two.
With Monteiro escaping at the front, Vernay was particularly keen to make progress. The Frenchman had arrived at Estoril as the championship leader and was pushing hard to get by Tassi for second to mitigate the damage done by a potential victory for his nearest rival.
The Audi-CUPRA midfield party then lost another one if its contenders, as Azcona was dealt a drive-through penalty for forcing Coronel off into the barriers. After an impressive sixth-placed finish in Race One, it was safe to say that Race Two hadn’t quite gone to plan for the Spaniard.
Back at the front, the status quo remained between Tassi and Vernay, but after winning the Hyundai versus Lynk & Co battle just behind, Norbert Michelisz was closing in on the pair of them in fourth.
the fourth factory-supported Hyundai driver Luca Engstler wasn’t having quite such a positive time. In his duel with Thed Björk, the German had picked up damage somewhere that was causing bodywork to rub on his front-right tyre. As such, his race would come to a premature end.
But that wasn’t the end of the unfortunate demises. Race leader Monteiro was called into the pits by the stewards with immediate effect, after his bonnet came unpinned and threatened to fly up into his windscreen.
This handed Tassi the lead, while Vernay and Michelisz were now up into second and third.
But the job wasn’t done yet for the Hungarian. Gabriele Tarquini had now joined the train of Hyundai drivers latched onto the back of Tassi’s bumper, so the race was far from over.
However, time simply wasn’t on Hyundai’s side, and so Tassi brought the Honda home for his first ever WTCR victory, along with an extra point for the fastest lap of the race.
Vernay crossed the line as the best of the rest in second place and with that, was able to reclaim the championship points lead after losing it to Monteiro in Race One.
Michelisz and Tarquini completed a good result for Hyundai Customer Racing in third and fourth position, while the top five was rounded out by Santiago Urrutia – the best of the Cyan Racing drivers.
Urrutia had his work cut out though in this race, and only just managed to fend off Yann Ehrlacher who finished in sixth.
Björk made it three Lynk & Cos in a row in seventh place, while Guerrieri was able to recover to eighth place after his nightmare start.
That battle for the final few top ten positions was particularly feisty, with Yvan Muller eventually beating Rob Huff to ninth.
Frédéric Vervisch was the best of Audi’s bunch not far behind in eleventh, while Girolami came home in thirteenth position after serving that grid penalty which demoted him to the back of Race Two’s grid.
So, heading into Spain for round three of the FIA World Touring Car Cup, Vernay takes a five point advantage away with him in the standings, with Tassi, Muller and Urrutia all tied in a joint second place.
Monteiro could have left with a sizeable championship lead had his bonnet pins held together long enough, but nevertheless he remains in contention, nine points behind Vernay and tied with Guerrieri.
|1||9||Attila TASSI||ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR||16||29:04.501||1:45.150||4|
|2||69||Jean-Karl VERNAY||Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team||Hyundai Elantra N TCR||16||1.030||1:45.220||3|
|3||5||Norbert MICHELISZ||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse||Hyundai Elantra N TCR||16||1.553||1:45.284||5|
|4||3||Gabriele TARQUINI||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse||Hyundai Elantra N TCR||16||2.165||1:45.790||9|
|5||12||Santiago URRUTIA||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||16||7.814||1:45.920||6|
|6||68||Yann EHRLACHER||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||16||8.757||1:45.913||8|
|7||11||Thed BJÖRK||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||16||11.661||1:46.139||11|
|8||86||Esteban GUERRIERI||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR||16||14.586||1:45.285||1|
|9||100||Yvan MULLER||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||16||16.465||1:46.421||7|
|10||79||Rob HUFF||Zengő Motorsport||CUPRA Leon Competición TCR||16||19.010||1:46.402||16|
|11||22||Frédéric VERVISCH||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||16||20.807||1:46.373||15|
|12||17||Nathanaël BERTHON||Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||16||22.168||1:46.637||13|
|13||29||Néstor GIROLAMI||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR||16||22.426||1:46.560||22|
|14||16||Gilles MAGNUS||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||16||22.588||1:46.688||14|
|15||28||Jordi GENÉ||Zengő Motorsport Drivers’ Academy||CUPRA Leon Competición TCR||16||29.028||1:47.131||20|
|16||26||Jessica BÄCKMAN||Target Competition||Hyundai Elantra N TCR||16||36.145||1:46.872||19|
|17||19||Andreas BÄCKMAN||Target Competition||Hyundai Elantra N TCR||16||37.342||1:46.523||18|
|18||18||Tiago MONTEIRO||ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR||16||1:02.081||1:45.224||2|
|19||55||Bence BOLDIZS||Zengő Motorsport Drivers’ Academy||CUPRA Leon Competición TCR||14||+ 2 LAPS||1:47.408||21|
|R||8||Luca ENGSTLER||Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team||Hyundai Elantra N TCR||10||DNF||1:45.826||10|
|R||96||Mikel AZCONA||Zengő Motorsport||CUPRA Leon Competición TCR||8||DNF||1:48.087||12|
|R||32||Tom CORONEL||Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||0||DNF||N/A||17|