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.
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).
|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|