Gilles Magnus wins last-ever WTCR race behind the safety car

Comtoyou Racing’s Gilles Magnus won the last-ever FIA World Touring Car Cup race behind the safety car, after Franco Girolami took out early leader Attila Tassi in Saudi Arabia.

Team Engstler’s Tassi had started the partially-reversed-grid race from pole position, and the Honda driver led the opening two laps of the race.

Initially the Hungarian’s challenge looked to come from Münnich Motorsport’s Esteban Guerrier, but at the end of the opening lap the Argentine driver out-braked himself and spun out of second at Turn 1, avoiding hitting his fellow Honda racer.

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Tassi wasn’t so lucky next time around, when Comtoyou’s Franco Girolami tried to pass Hyundai’s Nicky Catsburg for second at the same corner but went in too deep and hit the back of Tassi before bouncing into Catsburg, eliminating all three drivers from the race.

The melee at the front promoted Magnus – who ended the first lap in fifth – into the lead, and the Belgian would hold station thereafter for a third win of the season, at one stage having built an advantage of over five seconds before a late-race safety car intervention.

Macedonian wildcard Viktor Davidovski took second, having moved up the order at the same time as Magnus, although he came under pressure in the final laps before the race neutralisation from Hyundai’s Mikel Azcona, the new champion ultimately completing the podium.

Norbert Michelisz followed his BRC Racing team-mate home in fourth, cementing his fourth overall in the drivers’ standings.

Rob Huff was fifth, with the Zengő Motorsport driver having been at the centre of the action which required the late safety car.

Huff had been defending staunchly for several laps from Nathanaël Berthon, who knew that the only way he could steal second in the drivers’ standings was to get ahead of the CUPRA racer.

On lap 17 the Audi driver made a late lunge at the final corner, going in too fast and hitting the left-rear of Huff’s car, breaking Berthon’s front-right suspension.

Out of the race, it also ended the Comtoyou racer’s hopes of the runner-up spot overall. The slow recovery of his car also meant that the WTCR era of World Touring Cars concluded in anti-climatic fashion behind the safety car.

Tom Coronel was sixth in his Comtoyou Audi, ahead of Zengő’s Dániel Nagy in seventh, the Hungarian having passed Néstor Girolami for the place just moments before the safety car.

Münnich Motorsport’s Girolami was thus eighth, securing second overall in the points by 14 points over Berthon.

The top ten was completed by Team Engstler’s Tiago Monteiro and Comtoyou’s wildcard Ahmed bin Khanen.

With WTCR now having ended, the top level of international touring car racing in 2023 will be known as the TCR World Tour, comprising a nine-event calendar of races which are part of various national and regional TCR series which will also permit the invitation of TCR World Tour international racers. Further details will be revealed in the coming months.

Race result

POS NO CL NAT DRIVER ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME BEST GD
1 16 Gilles MAGNUS Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR II 22 32:55.427 1:16.986 6
2 110 Viktor DAVIDOVSKI Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR II 22 0.464 1:17.409 2
3 96 Mikel AZCONA BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR 22 0.932 1:17.263 8
4 5 Norbert MICHELISZ BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR 22 1.314 1:17.333 9
5 79 Rob HUFF Zengő Motorsport Services Kft CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 22 1.570 1:17.579 11
6 33 Tom CORONEL Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR II 22 1.788 1:17.289 7
7 99 Dániel NAGY Zengő Motorsport Services Kft CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 22 2.217 1:17.650 12
8 29 Néstor GIROLAMI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 22 3.030 1:17.982 15
9 18 Tiago MONTEIRO Liqui Moly Team Engstler Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 22 3.621 1:18.190 14
10 24 Ahmed Khaled BIN KHANEN Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR II 22 5.057 1:18.031 13
11 86 Esteban GUERRIERI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 22 6.309 1:18.009 3
R 17 Nathanaël BERTHON Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR II 16 DNF 1:17.323 10
R 72 Franco GIROLAMI Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR II 3 DNF 1:18.741 5
R 9 Attila TASSI Liqui Moly Team Engstler Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 3 DNF 1:18.814 1
R 88 Nicky CATSBURG BRC Hyundai N Racing Team Hyundai Elantra N TCR 3 DNF 1:18.886 4
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