Néstor Girolami won the opening FIA World Touring Car Cup race at Vallelunga, as tyre dramas continued with Cyan Racing’s five drivers pulling out just moments before the start.
The tyre drama continued in Italy, with Cyan Racing following through on its threat not to race due to “tyre safety issues”.
Just moments before the start of the race, at the end of the warm-up lap, all five Lynk & Cos came into the pits to withdraw, with the team then releasing a follow-up statement.
“Lynk & Co Cyan Racing is unable to take part in the FIA World Touring Car Cup Race of Italy with its five cars due to tyre safety concerns because of the current weight levels,” read the statement.
That left just 11 cars to take the start, and Münnich Motorsport’s Girolami held on through the first corners, despite a challenge from Hyundai’s Mikel Azcona around the outside in the first sequence of turns.
Azcona settled into second ahead of Comtoyou Racing’s Nathanaël Berthon in third, whilst behind him fellow Audi racer Gilles Magnus was up to fourth after passing Esteban Guerrieri and Mehdi Bennani at the start, before diving up the inside of Norbert Michelisz for fourth at Turn 10.
The field then held station for the opening six laps, before the tyre dramas flared up again on lap seven. First to suffer a puncture was the Audi of Bennani, who dropped out of sixth as he limped around to the pits.
Team Engstler’s Tiago Monteiro then picked up a puncture, quickly followed by team-mate Attila Tassi a lap later, both Hondas returning to the pits for a replacement front-left tyre.
On lap 12, Berthon fell off the road from the final podium place with his own puncture, skitting through the gravel on the outside of Turn 2 before he crawled back to the pits, albeit dropping a lap in the process.
Zengő Motorsport’s Rob Huff had to take avoiding action for Berthon’s excursion, but he then had his own puncture three laps later and had to also pit.
The debris now on the track meant a late-race safety car period, resulting in just a three-lap sprint to the finish.
But Azcona had already been told by his BRC Racing team on the radio to hold second, leaving Girolami to claim a second win of the season.
Even after the race there was confusion, as the apparent failure of the chequered flag to fly meant that drivers continued to race for half a lap, before being told to slow down on the radio.
Magnus completed the podium in third, ahead of Michelisz in fourth and Tassi in fifth, the Hungarian being the only driver who pitted for a new tyre to remain on the lead lap.
Comtoyou Racing’s Tom Coronel was sixth and the leading ‘Trophy’ driver, with Guerrieri in seventh the only other driver on the lead lap – although the Argentine suffered from a blown turbo on the final tour and thus dropped out of fifth.
Huff, Berthon, Bennani and Monteiro all finished the race after their punctures, down in eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh respectively.
Race one result
|1||29||Néstor GIROLAMI||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR||22||31:21.344||1:16.477||1|
|2||96||Mikel AZCONA||BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse||Hyundai Elantra N TCR||22||0.248||1:16.424||2|
|3||16||Gilles MAGNUS||Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021||22||1.788||1:16.403||7|
|4||5||Norbert MICHELISZ||BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse||Hyundai Elantra N TCR||22||2.099||1:16.475||3|
|5||9||Attila TASSI||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR||22||6.706||1:16.806||9|
|6||33||Tom CORONEL||Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021||22||12.152||1:16.916||12|
|7||86||Esteban GUERRIERI||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR||22||59.004||1:16.772||5|
|8||79||Rob HUFF||Zengő Motorsport Services Kft||CUPRA Leon Competición TCR||21||+ 1 LAP||1:16.843||14|
|9||17||Nathanaël BERTHON||Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021||21||+ 1 LAP||1:15.763||4|
|10||25||Mehdi BENNANI||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021||21||+ 1 LAP||1:16.571||6|
|11||18||Tiago MONTEIRO||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR||20||+ 2 LAPS||1:16.544||15|
|R||12||Santiago URRUTIA||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||0||DNF||N/A||8|
|R||68||Yann EHRLACHER||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||0||DNF||N/A||10|
|R||55||MA Qing Hua||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||0||DNF||N/A||11|
|R||100||Yvan MULLER||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||0||DNF||N/A||13|
|R||11||Thed BJÖRK||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||0||DNF||N/A||16|