Néstor Girolami heads Münnich Motorsport 1-2 in opening Pau race

Néstor Girolami headed Münnich Motorsport team-mate Esteban Guerrieri in the opening FIA World Touring Car Cup race on the streets of Pau, as Cyan Racing’s Yvan Muller completed the podium.

The race on the narrow French circuit saw few overtaking manoeuvres, as cars found it difficult to find a way past.

The most crucial phase was the start, with the two front-row Hondas assuming the lead after the lights went out, Girolami in front of fellow Argentine Guerrieri.

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Thereafter, Girolami was able to control the pace at the front, opening up a margin of just over a second over his compatriot for most of the race.

Muller was the leading Lynk & Co driver in third, the Frenchman reporting a vibration late in the race which meant the end couldn’t come soon enough for the 52-year-old.

Comtoyou Racing’s Nathanaël Berthon had run in fourth for much of the race, and at one stage the Audi driver looked to have the potential to challenge Muller for a podium, even radioing his team to check on the move.

But the Frenchman dropped back suddenly on lap 20 and on the following lap he slightly wide at Turn 2, opening the door for Yann Ehrlacher and Ma Qing Hua to get past.

Then, further around the lap, the Hyundai of Mikel Azcona made slight contact with the rear of the Audi at the hairpin, preventing Berthon from making the turn and he dropped to the back of the field.

That meant Ehrlacher claimed fourth, ahead of Ma in fifth, although the Chinese driver had to withstand late-race pressure from BRC Racing’s Azcona in sixth.

Cyan Racing’s Santiago Urrutia finished where he started in seventh, ahead of Comtoyou Racing’s Gilles Magnus – who had made slight contact with Norbert Michelisz at the start – in eighth.

The top ten was completed by Michelisz and Comtoyou’s Mehdi Bennani, who moved up a place at the start and then gained three more places as the race progressed due to other’s misfortune.

Tom Coronel was 11th behind his team-mate ahead of Zengő Motorsport’s Rob Huff in 12th, the CUPRA driver actually setting the fastest lap of the race.

Thed Björk had another difficult session, having to pit after ten laps for work on his car, and the Swede was thus the only non-classified driver in the race.

Attila Tassi also had to pit late on with an issue, leaving him to finish in last. His Engstler Motorsport team-mate Tiago Monteiro also had a race to forget, running in 16th before then overshooting at Turn 2 and dropping to the back.

Race two is scheduled to get underway at 17:10 CEST (16:10 BST).

Race results

POS NO CL NAT DRIVER ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME GAP GD
1 29 Néstor GIROLAMI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 23 32:03.148 1:22.562 1
2 86 Esteban GUERRIERI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 23 1.239 1:22.709 2
3 100 Yvan MULLER Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 23 2.314 1:22.731 3
4 68 Yann EHRLACHER Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 23 2.991 1:22.577 6
5 55 MA Qing Hua Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 23 6.001 1:22.679 5
6 96 Mikel AZCONA BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR 23 6.285 1:22.555 8
7 12 Santiago URRUTIA Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 23 7.149 1:22.539 7
8 16 Gilles MAGNUS Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021 23 10.280 1:22.683 11
9 5 Norbert MICHELISZ BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR 23 11.178 1:22.770 10
10 25 Mehdi BENNANI Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021 23 11.634 1:22.641 14
11 33 Tom CORONEL Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021 23 12.079 1:22.498 16
12 79 Rob HUFF Zengő Motorsport Services Kft CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 23 12.672 1:22.293 13
13 99 Dániel NAGY Zengő Motorsport Services Kft CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 23 14.682 1:22.851 17
14 64 Eric CAYROLLE Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021 23 30.328 1:22.972 18
15 18 Tiago MONTEIRO Liqui Moly Team Engstler Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 23 30.658 1:22.489 15
16 17 Nathanaël BERTHON Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021 23 1:14.781 1:22.454 4
17 9 Attila TASSI Liqui Moly Team Engstler Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 22 + 1 LAP 1:22.479 9
R 11 Thed BJÖRK Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 17 NCF 1:22.657 12
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