Frédéric Vervisch takes Audi’s first WTCR race win of the season

Frederic Vervisch controlled the feature race at Motorland Aragon to take his and Audi’s first FIA World Touring Car Cup win of the season. All the drama, however, came from the midfield.

Vervisch got away well from the line to retain the lead from Thed Bjork, while further back home hero Mikel Azcona stalled from ninth place. Thankfully everyone managed to avoid the stationary CUPRA, though the Spaniard now had a mountain to climb.

Further back, Luca Engstler was looking lively in the last of the Hyundais, and before the end of the first lap both he and Esteban Guerrieri had managed to get by the Lynk & Co of Santiago Urrutia for eleventh and twelfth respectively.

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It wasn’t long before Guerrieri was heading back down the order again though in the hamstrung Honda. After succumbing to retaliation from Urrutia (with a little contact to force the issue), Jordi Gene also dived past the Argentine on the inside of turn sixteen.

Race One winner Gabriele Tarquini was also on the move slightly further up the road, this time getting past Yann Ehrlacher for eighth through turns fourteen and fifteen.

Onto lap four, Yvan Muller had been called into action to protect the rear of Ehrlacher, however the Frenchman went too deep into turn one, which allowed the Hyundai of Engstler to brush past. As a result, Muller then released Cyan Racing stablemate Urrutia in an attempt to get a Lynk & Co car back in between Engstler and Ehrlacher.

Unfortunately for the Swedish team, that plan would fail too, as Urrutia soon bowed out of the race due to a broken steering rack.

Another car then managed to breach Muller’s defences, as Rob Huff continued his impressive progress up the order to get into eleventh place.

Further up the order, Norbert Michelisz appeared to be nursing an issue of his own, and therefore didn’t put up too much of a fight when Jean-Karl Vernay attempted to pass him for fourth place on the inside of turn ten.

Having dropped off the pace by three seconds, there was now a three-car train of Nathanael Berthon, Tom Coronel and Tarquini all desperate to get ahead of the ailing Hyundai.

Meanwhile, a new fight was breaking out for second place as Gilles Magnus’s tyres looked in much healthier shape than Bjork’s. Nevertheless, the Swede was hanging on with all his might.

Bjork then got a much-needed break as yellow flags were deployed in sector two. Coronel’s race had come to a premature end thanks to a mechanical failure of some sort, and with his car stuck on the circuit, the safety car was sent out to neutralise the race while the Audi was recovered by marshals.

Before the safety car had been called for, Michelisz’s defence of fifth had finally come to an end, with both Berthon and Tarquini managing to get by the wounded Elantra.

Meanwhile at the tail end of the points-paying positions, Azcona recovered back up into fifteenth following the safety car period after his dreadful start, after leveraging Andreas Backman out of the way at turn sixteen.

Back with Michelisz, the Hungarian’s right-front tyre finally let go with just one lap remaining, promoting Ehrlacher up to eighth. However, due to Michelisz’s pace issues, the pack behind him had bunched right up together.

As a result, contact ensued between Muller and Huff at turn eight, though the Brit managed to correct the slide of his CUPRA and get it stopped right on the apex of turn nine, therefore not losing any positions at all.

Out in front though, Vervisch had a much less hectic time as he calmly controlled the race from the front to take victory – Audi’s first of the season.

Behind him, Bjork and Magnus completed the podium, while Vernay finished in fourth to extend his championship points lead despite reporting slight mechanical issues of his own.

Berthon crossed the line in fifth place ahead of Race One victor Tarquini, while Ehrlacher ended up in seventh.

Engstler finished in eighth with a comfortable gap in the end to Huff who came home in ninth, despite starting right towards the back of the grid. Muller completed the top ten.

Meanwhile Guerrieri was the best of Honda’s bunch in eleventh, while Azcona managed to recover to twelfth.

So, Vernay now heads to round four in Italy with an eight-point lead over Ehrlacher in second place, with Muller not far behind in the rankings either in third.

Race results

POS NO CL NAT DRIVER ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME GAP GD
1 22 Frédéric VERVISCH Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 13 28:57.708 2:07.588 1
2 11 Thed BJÖRK Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 13 1.191 2:08.068 2
3 16 Gilles MAGNUS Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 13 1.691 2:08.001 3
4 69 Jean-Karl VERNAY Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team Hyundai Elantra N TCR 13 2.400 2:07.618 5
5 17 Nathanaël BERTHON Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 13 3.834 2:08.128 6
6 3 Gabriele TARQUINI BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR 13 5.434 2:08.323 10
7 68 Yann EHRLACHER Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 13 9.968 2:08.775 8
8 8 Luca ENGSTLER Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team Hyundai Elantra N TCR 13 10.974 2:08.914 12
9 79 Rob HUFF Zengő Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 13 12.788 2:09.032 22
10 100 Yvan MULLER Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 13 14.266 2:08.926 11
11 86 Esteban GUERRIERI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 13 14.845 2:09.732 15
12 96 Mikel AZCONA Zengő Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 13 15.626 2:08.082 9
13 29 Néstor GIROLAMI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 13 15.855 2:10.417 19
14 18 Tiago MONTEIRO ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 13 21.083 2:10.108 20
15 9 Attila TASSI ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 13 22.024 2:10.106 21
16 55 Bence BOLDIZS Zengő Motorsport Drivers’ Academy CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 13 28.138 2:09.780 17
17 26 Jessica BÄCKMAN Target Competition Hyundai Elantra N TCR 13 31.400 2:10.093 18
18 5 Norbert MICHELISZ BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR 13 1:55.826 2:07.761 4
R 28 Jordi GENÉ Zengő Motorsport Drivers’ Academy CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 12 + 1 LAP 2:09.232 14
R 19 Andreas BÄCKMAN Target Competition Hyundai Elantra N TCR 12 + 1 LAP 2:09.413 16
R 32 Tom CORONEL Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 8 DNF 2:08.431 7
R 12 Santiago URRUTIA Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 5 DNF 2:08.971 13
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