Comtoyou Racing’s Gilles Magnus withstood race-long pressure from Zengő Motorsport’s Rob Huff to claim victory in the opening FIA World Touring Car Cup race at MotorLand Aragón in Spain.
Although it was a lights-to-flag victory for the Audi driver, he twice had to withstand pressure and attacks from his rivals.
At the start, Magnus held the lead but came under pressure through the opening turns by Cyan Racing’s Yann Ehrlacher, who had tired to go around the outside at the second corner.
But as Ehrlacher found himself out of position, it was the fast-starting CUPRA of Huff who took advantage, the Brit coming from fourth on the grid to second in the first two turns.
Ehrlacher then battled with the second Comtoyou Audi of Nathanaël Berthon over the opening lap, with the reigning champion holding third early on.
Berthon re-took the final podium place on the next lap, in a move which saw Ehrlacher drop to sixth behind team-mate Yvan Muller and Hyundai’s Mikel Azcona.
Meanwhile, at the front, Magnus held a lead of half a second over Huff, who was generally always within that distance from the Belgian.
Huff kept Magnus honest, but lacked the ultimate pace to be able to mount a serious move for the win and he had to settle for second, the Brit’s second successive second in the championship, as Magnus claimed his second overall WTCR win and his first visit to the podium this year.
Azcona had jumped two places up to sixth on the opening lap, becoming fifth when Ehrlacher dropped back, and he then quickly got by Muller for fourth on lap four.
Thereafter, the Spaniard caught and pressured Berthon for the final podium place, but like Huff’s predicament, he couldn’t find a way through as the Audi ahead held firm with strong straight-line speed.
For Berthon it is the Frenchman’s second podium of 2022, whilst Azcona managed to extend his drivers’ standings lead with fourth.
Norbert Michelisz came fifth, the Hyundai driver gaining two places up to seventh on the first lap before passing Ehrlacher for sixth two laps later.
Like Azcona, Michelisz dispatched Muller with a late-braking move into the final hairpin on lap five, before following his team-mate home.
Ehrlacher took sixth, having been handed the position on lap ten when Muller moved aside after a team communication, which also made clear that Santiago Urrutia, running in eighth, would not be allowed by.
That meant Muller claimed seventh, ahead of his Uruguayan team-mate, who had earlier rubbed wheels with Ehrlacher.
Thed Björk made it four Lynk & Cos inside the top ten with ninth, with Comtoyou Racing’s Mehdi Bennani in tenth.
The miserable weekend for Honda continued, as Esteban Guerrieri was only 11th for Münnich Motorsport, ahead of team-mate Néstor Girolami in 12th.
Attila Tassi had retired after 13 laps, with other non-finishers being Tom Coronel, who had picked up damage from Ma Qing Hua, and Dániel Nagy, who had a front-left puncture whilst running just outside the top ten.
Race two is scheduled to get underway at 15:15 CEST (14:15 BST).
Race one result
|1||16||Gilles MAGNUS||Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021||16||34:09.551||2:06.320||1|
|2||79||Rob HUFF||Zengő Motorsport Services Kft||CUPRA Leon Competición TCR||16||0.393||2:06.757||4|
|3||17||Nathanaël BERTHON||Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021||16||4.351||2:06.884||2|
|4||96||Mikel AZCONA||BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse||Hyundai Elantra N TCR||16||4.869||2:06.991||8|
|5||5||Norbert MICHELISZ||BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse||Hyundai Elantra N TCR||16||5.548||2:07.125||9|
|6||68||Yann EHRLACHER||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||16||9.655||2:07.503||3|
|7||100||Yvan MULLER||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||16||16.558||2:07.125||5|
|8||12||Santiago URRUTIA||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||16||18.960||2:07.490||6|
|9||11||Thed BJÖRK||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||16||19.990||2:07.574||12|
|10||25||Mehdi BENNANI||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021||16||20.571||2:07.852||15|
|11||86||Esteban GUERRIERI||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR||16||25.957||2:08.011||11|
|12||29||Néstor GIROLAMI||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR||16||27.688||2:08.569||13|
|13||55||MA Qing Hua||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||16||28.977||2:07.951||10|
|14||18||Tiago MONTEIRO||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR||16||36.987||2:08.444||16|
|R||9||Attila TASSI||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR||13||DNF||2:08.074||14|
|R||33||Tom CORONEL||Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021||7||DNF||2:08.384||17|
|R||99||Dániel NAGY||Zengő Motorsport Services Kft||CUPRA Leon Competición TCR||6||DNF||2:07.765||7|