WTCR Race of Netherlands 2019 - 17-19/05/2019

The most northerly venue on the calendar, Circuit Zandvoort sweeps through the sand dunes of the North Sea coastal town west of Amsterdam and welcomed 110,000 fans to the first WTCR Race of Netherlands last May. Turning 70 in 2018 and once home to the Dutch Grand Prix, Zandvoort’s motorsport roots go back to 1939 when a street race was organised. It was the catalyst for the mayor to invest in a permanent track, with construction beginning following World War II. Honda bosses liked what they saw and commissioned its designer, John Hugenholtz, to pen the famous Japanese circuit too.

Thed Björk scored his second victory of the WTCR Race of Netherlands weekend as discussions over team orders became a talking point during Race 3 at Zandvoort.

Björk had made the better getaway from the line, but DHL Pole Position driver Yann Ehrlacher, in another Chinese-developed Lynk & Co 03 TCR, moved to the right to block and made contact with his team-mate, who still accelerated into the lead.

But as they started lap three, the order on the team radio was to “swap positions on the main straight”, and Björk obliged over fears Ehrlacher would be penalised for his attempts to hold onto first place at the start – and to honour a pre-race agreement for the staring order to be maintained.

Ehrlacher then led until lap six when it was clear he would not be penalised beyond receiving a driving standards flag and the decision was taken to order Björk back through to the front, a position he held to the flag for his third win of 2019.

Behind the Lynk & Co-powered pair, Augusto Farfus looked set for his first WTCR / OSCARO podium, only for fellow BRC Hyundai driver and title contender Norbert Michelisz to pass him on the last lap after the order was given to help Michelisz’s stronger title prospects.

Yvan Muller, who became involved in Cyan’s team order discussions via the radio during the race, finished where he started in fifth having lost his DHL Pole Position for non-compliance regarding the maximum boost pressure and the maximum engine speed values as published in the Balance of Performance chart issued for the event.

PWR Racing’s Mikel Azcona completed a strong weekend with more #RoadToMalaysia points in sixth, ahead of Race 2 podium finisher Johan Kristoffersson of SLR Volkswagen. Race 2 winner and new title winner Esteban Guerrieri was eighth for ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport.

Earlier in the weekend, Muller and Azcona completed the Race 1 podium with SLR Volkswagen team-mates Benjamin Leuchter and double FIA World Rallycross champion Johan Kristoffersson doing likewise in Race 2. Nicky Catsburg was the top Dutch scorer with fourth in Race 2 ahead of Azcona and Farfus. Leuchter landed the TAG Heuer Best Lap Trophy for the first time.

Jean Todt, President of the FIA, was a guest of honour, while Pierre Gasly and Max Verstappen added to the star quality on the Race 2 grid when they joined guests from TAG Heuer, the WTCR’s Official Timing Partner. The Red Bull Racing drivers were attending the Jumbo Racedagen, performing demonstration runs and making a number of promotional appearances.

DHL Pole Position Race 1: Thed Björk (SWE) Lynk & Co 03 TCR
Race 1 winner: Thed Björk (SWE) Lynk & Co 03 TCR
Race 1 fastest lap: Frédéric Vervisch (BEL) Audi RS 3 LMS

DHL Pole Position Race 2: Esteban Guerrieri (ARG) Honda Civic Type R TCR
Race 2 winner: Esteban Guerrieri (ARG) Honda Civic Type R TCR
Race 2 fastest lap: Benjamin Leuchter (DEU) Volkswagen Golf GTI

DHL Pole Position Race 3: Yann Ehrlacher (FRA) Lynk & Co 03 TCR
Race 3 winner: Thed Björk (SWE) Lynk & Co 03 TCR
Race 3 fastest lap: Mehdi Bennani (MAR) Volkswagen Golf GTI

TAG Heuer Best Lap Trophy: Benjamin Leuchter (DEU) Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR
TAG Heuer Most Valuable Driver: Thed Björk (SWE) Lynk & Co 03 TCR

Track essentials
Name: Circuit Zandvoort
Location: Burgemeester van Alphenstraat 108, 2041 KP Zandvoort, The Netherlands
Length: 4.307 kilometres
Race 1 distance: 12 laps (51.684 kilometres)
Race 2 distance: 12 laps (51.684 kilometres)
Race 3 distance: 15 laps (64.605 kilometres)
Best laps
WTCR lap record (qualifying): Rob Huff (Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR), 1m43.945s (149.1kph), 20/05/18
WTCR lap record (race): Yann Ehrlacher (Honda Civic Type R TCR), 1m45.901s (146.4kph), 20/05/18
More details
Time zone: GMT +2 hours
Fly to: Amsterdam Airport Schipol (22.5 kilometres)
Stay: Zandvoort