Yann Ehrlacher won the first FIA World Touring Car Cup race of the weekend at Estoril, with his Cyan Racing team-mates Yvan Muller and Santiago Urrutia following him home to lock out the podium.
After a fantastic start from the reversed grid, Ehrlacher scythed past polesitter Gabriele Tarquini at turn one, before having to defend against the Italian until his car was struck by a puncture midway through the race.
From the outside, it looked relatively comfortable for the Swedish team, as although they were only at the sharp end of the grid thanks to the top ten qualifying order getting reversed, their pace was still more than enough to hold back the rest of the pack.
On a normal weekend, this wouldn’t have been such a surprise given the quality of Cyan Racing as a touring car outfit. However, after their damning comments about the current Balance of Performance distribution, this result certainly raised a few eyebrows.
Nevertheless, despite the evident success that the team had in the first race of the day, reigning champion Ehrlacher maintains that the car’s performance is not where he would like it to be.
“It’s a really good result for the team so thanks to them,” he said. “We have quite a hard time I would say, we struggle with performance and with the reversed grid we managed to get these points and result.
“I would have preferred winning the main race, but I will take that!”
“My only opportunity to overtake Gabriele [Tarquini] was at the start. We nailed the start and then I managed to take him on the inside.
“The safety car didn’t make my life easy, but the restart went well. I had to defend for a few laps because with our top speed it is not easy to fight. But he got the puncture and then, yeah, we ended the race like this.”
It wasn’t just an apparent lack of straight line speed that Ehrlacher feels he had to combat either. As this was his first TCR race at the circuit, the Frenchman believes that he learned a few lessons to take into Race Two.
“It was trying to manage a bit the tyres, there was debris everywhere and things to deal with,” he said.
“It was the first time I raced here actually with the touring car, so a bit of experience and few things to improve for Race Two now. But it’s good points and I’m really happy about this team podium.”
Ehrlacher and the rest of the field will be back out on circuit for the feature race at 15:15 local time, where Esteban Guerrieri and championship leader Tiago Monteiro will lead the way from the front.