Season recap: WTCR Race of Germany
Volkswagen power won the day as Johan Kristoffersson and home hero Benjamin Leuchter took their first victories in WTCR / OSCARO for Sébastien Loeb Racing.
Kristoffersson, who switched to the series for 2019 as the double FIA World Rallycross champion, claimed the Race 2 laurels – and the TAG Heuer Best Lap Trophy – only to crash out of Race 3 in spectacular fashion while avoiding another incident, thankfully without injury.
Having finished sixth in Race 2, German Leuchter made the most of his DHL Pole Position to win Race 3, making it a double triumph for the SLR-run Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR on the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife. Leuchter fended off a strong start from Esteban Guerrieri (ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR) at Turn 1, then controlled the pace brilliantly from the front to score a landmark victory.
Guerrieri made a flying start from the second row, despite a clutch issue plaguing him for much of the warm-up lap. The Argentinian briefly took the lead into T1, but the Golf had a better line out of T2. At the end of lap one, Guerrieri got a strong run on Leuchter on along the two-kilometre Döttinger Hohe straight and almost drafted into the lead, but the home hero just clung on.
The moment allowed Comtoyou Team Audi Sport’s Frédéric Vervisch, up from P7 on the grid, to get a run on Guerrieri and the Belgian passed the points leader on the start/finish straight to claim another second place, following his runner-up spot in Race 2. Guerrieri would settle for third, extending his points lead to 45 as main title rivals Norbert Michelisz and Thed Björk both stopped.
BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse driver Michelisz scored a measured win in Race 1, passing DHL pole-sitter Guerrieri at the first turn and maintaining his advantage thereafter.
There was a titanic scrap over the final podium position, which Guerrieri’s team-mate Néstor Girolami recovered to score after falling behind early on. Passed by Vervisch on the opening lap, Girolami’s first bid to retake third was stumped by a defensive Vervisch along Döttinger Höhe.
With Girolami taking to the grass briefly and both slowing each other down as they jostled for position, both were stunned when Rob Huff slipstreamed them both to take third, though Girolami did manage to pass Vervisch’s Audi RS 3 LMS. Girolami then edged ahead of Huff on the final lap, going wheel-to-wheel down Döttinger Höhe. Huff was fourth but was somewhat lucky to finish at all, clashing with Yvan Muller at Turn 2 on lap one.
ROUNDS 13-15: WTCR RACE OF GERMANY, 20-22 JUNE 2019
DHL Pole Position Race 1: Esteban Guerrieri (ARG) Honda Civic Type R TCR
Race 1 winner: Norbert Michelisz (HUN) Hyundai i30 N TCR
Race 1 fastest lap: Néstor Girolami (ARG) Honda Civic Type R TCR
DHL Pole Position Race 2: Johan Kristoffersson (SWE) Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR
Race 2 winner: Johan Kristoffersson (SWE) Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR
Race 2 fastest lap: Johan Kristoffersson (SWE) Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR
DHL Pole Position Race 3: Benjamin Leuchter (DEU) Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR
Race 3 winner: Benjamin Leuchter (DEU) Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR
Race 3 fastest lap: Jean-Karl Vernay (FRA) Audi RS 3 LMS
TAG Heuer Best Lap Trophy: Johan Kristoffersson (SWE) Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR
TAG Heuer Most Valuable Driver: Esteban Guerrieri (ARG) Honda Civic Type R TCR