WTCR Race of Saudi Arabia 2022 - 25-27/11/2022

In 100 words… The WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup’s maiden visit to Saudi Arabia brings international touring car action to the country for the first time for an exciting pair of night races promoted by Saudi Motorsport Company. WTCR will be the first series to use Jeddah Corniche Circuit’s alternative 3.450-kilometre track, which has been selected due to its design being tailor-made for bumper-to-bumper, doorhandle-to-doorhandle FIA World Touring Car racing and homologated especially for the occasion. Saudi Arabia is becoming established as a motorsport destination with FIA Formula One, Formula E and World Rally-Raid Championship events also taking place in the country.

WTCR RACE OF SAUDI ARABIA: THE WEEKEND’S BIG WINNERS

RACE WINNERS
Race 1:
Nathanaël Berthon (FRA), Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport, Audi RS 3 LMS
Race 2: Gilles Magnus (BEL), Comtoyou Team Audi Sport, Audi RS 3 LMS

WTCR TROPHY WINNERS
Race 1:
Tom Coronel (NLD), Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport, Audi RS 3 LMS
Race 2: Rob Huff (GBR), Zengő Motorsport, CUPRA Leon Competición

POLE POSITION
Race 1: Nathanaël Berthon (FRA), Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport, Audi RS 3 LMS, 1m16.362s (162.6kph)
Race 2 (reverse grid): Attila Tassi (HUN), LIQUI MOLY Team Engstler, Honda Civic Type R TCR

FASTEST LAPS
Race 1: Nathanaël Berthon (FRA), Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport, Audi RS 3 LMS, 1m17.052s (161.1kph)
Race 2: Gilles Magnus (BEL), Comtoyou Team Audi Sport, Audi RS 3 LMS, 1m16.986s (161.3kph)

QUALFYING REPORT: POLE-SITTER BERTHON JUBILANT IN JEDDAH AS AZCONA IS CROWNED KING OF WTCR*

RACE REPORT: JEDDAH JOY FOR AZCONA, BERTHON AND MAGNUS AS CHEQUERED FLAG WAVES WITH A WTCR THRILLER

WTCR Race of Saudi Arabia Race 1 classification (30 minutes + 1 lap)
1 Nathanaël Berthon (FRA) Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport, Audi RS 3 LMS, 37m02.491s (161.1kph)
2 Norbert Michelisz (HUN) BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse, Hyundai Elantra N TCR, +1.869s
3 Tom Coronel (NLD) Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport, Audi RS 3 LMS, +4.573s
4 Franco Girolami (ARG) Comtoyou Team Audi Sport, Audi RS 3 LMS, +5.758s
5 Gilles Magnus (BEL) Comtoyou Team Audi Sport, Audi RS 3 LMS, +9.430s
Fastest lap: Berthon, 1m17.052s (161.1kph)

WTCR Race of Saudi Arabia Race 2 classification (25 minutes + 1 lap)
1 Gilles Magnus (BEL) Comtoyou Team Audi Sport, Audi RS 3 LMS, 32m55.427s (161.3kph)
2 Viktor Davidovski (MKD) Comtoyou Racing, Audi RS 3 LMS, +0.464s
3 Mikel Azcona (ESP) BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse, Hyundai Elantra N TCR, +0.932s.
4 Norbert Michelisz (HUN) BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse, Hyundai Elantra N TCR, +1.314s
5 Rob Huff (GBR) Zengő Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición, +1.570s
Fastest lap: Magnus, 1m16.986s (161.3kph)

WTCR provisional standings after Round 18 of 18
Goodyear #FollowTheLeader and King of WTCR*: Mikel Azcona, 337 points
2 Néstor Girolami, 254 points
3 Nathanaël Berthon, 240 points
4 Norbert Michelisz, 222 points
5 Gilles Magnus, 210 points

Wins for Nathanaël Berthon and Gilles Magnus and a first King of WTCR crown for Mikel Azcona* marked the completion of the all-action WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup in its current format after five seasons at Jeddah Corniche Circuit in Saudi Arabia tonight.

Berthon claimed the Race 1 honours on the spectacular street circuit, with Magnus, Berthon’s Audi-powered Comtoyou team-mate, taking the chequered flag first in Race 2 as Tom Coronel and Rob Huff shared the wins in the WTCR Trophy for independent racers.

With the Red Sea shoreline providing a stunning backdrop, the spectacular floodlit races provided a fitting finale to the WTCR’s Middle East double-header, which began in Bahrain earlier this month, and gave the opportunity for the drivers and their Goodyear-supplied teams to sign-off on the 2022 season in style.

Kicking off on the streets of Pau in France back in May, the chase for this year’s WTCR titles also included stops in Germany, Hungary, Spain, Portugal, Italy, France’s Alsace GrandEst region and Bahrain prior to the season decider in Saudi Arabia.

With an advantage of 60 points prior to WTCR Race of Saudi Arabia, Azcona’s title was all but assured and he put the big prize beyond Néstor Girolami’s reach with the second fastest time in Saturday Qualifying on a night when BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse earned the WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup for Teams for the first time.

A strong campaign ensured Rob Huff was the winner of the WTCR Trophy for independent racers at the completion of the European season.

As well as wins for Berthon and Magnus, there were notable performances in Jeddah from Norbert Michelisz and Tom Coronel, who completed the Race 1 podium. North Macedonian wildcard Viktor Davidovski also excelled by beating Mikel Azcona to second place in Race 2. Saudi Arabian wildcard Ahmed Bin Khanen finished P12 and P10 in a Comtoyou Racing-run Audi.

RACE 1 REPORT: BERTHON BEATS MICHELISZ IN HIGH-ACTION COUNTER FOR WIN TWO OF 2022
Nathanaël Berthon converted pole position into his second win of the season in Race 1, resisting intense pressure from Norbert Michelisz in the process. Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport driver Berthon kept Michelisz’s BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Elantra N TCR at bay throughout the race under floodlights at Jeddah Corniche Circuit to close to within five points of Néstor Girolami’s second place in the provisional WTCR drivers’ standings. The race was briefly interrupted by the safety car when Attila Tassi struggled to find a gear on the grid in his LIQUI MOLY Team Engstler Honda that is due to start Race 2 from pole position. New King of WTCR Mikel Azcona had already lost three places to the Audis of Tom Coronel, Franco Girolami and Gilles Magnus to run sixth as Coronel and Girolami chased Michelisz. When racing resumed on lap four, Coronel allowed Franco Girolami through to attack Michelisz, who briefly closed on Berthon before he began to struggle with tyre wear and hot brakes. The Hyundai fell back from the leader as Girolami made a big push to take second place, making contact with Michelisz as he looked down the inside of Turn 1 on the penultimate lap. Having failed to pass, Girolami slowed down on the run to the finish line on the last lap to give back third place to Coronel and ensure a Comtoyou 1-3. CLICK FOR FULL STORY.

RACE 2 REPORT: MAGNUS WINS AS WTCR CONCLUDES WITH A THRILLER
Gilles Magnus won the final WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup race of the current era after Attila Tassi, the early Race 2 leader in Saudi Arabia, was knocked out in a dramatic collision at Jeddah Corniche Circuit. Tassi led from pole position in his LIQUI MOLY Team Engstler Honda Civic TCR. He survived a move from ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport’s Esteban Guerrieri, who braked too late at Turn 1 on lap two and spun. Then the following lap Comtoyou Racing’s Franco Girolami made a move on the inside of Nicky Catsburg’s BRC Hyundai N Racing Team Elantra N TCR for second place − and wiped out both Tassi and Catsburg in one go. That left Magnus with a clear lead, the Belgian scoring his third WTCR victory of the season in a race that finished under the Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition safety car following a collision between Nathanaël Berthon and Rob Huff. Berthon’s retirement confirmed ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport’s Néstor Girolami as runner-up in the points to new King of WTCR Mikel Azcona*. CLICK FOR FULL STORY.

RACE WINNER QUOTES

RACE 1: Nathanaël Berthon (FRA) Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport, Audi RS 3 LMS
“Norbi [Michelisz] was not doing any mistakes, he was putting me under pressure until the end. The race was very long, 26 or 27 laps with a safety car. It was a lot of pressure, so I had to be… with one mistake he would have overtaken me. Wow, very happy with this win for the team of course. They did an amazing job, my crew, Comtoyou, Audi Sport. Congrats to Norbi, he was very fair all the race, so thanks for that. Always a good competitor. And of course my Tommy, he was right behind and I knew he was there to help me. I’m super-happy for him and that we are together on the podium for the last one, the last dance of the season. Let’s see next year but very happy.”

RACE 2: Gilles Magnus (BEL) Comtoyou Team Audi Sport, Audi RS 3 LMS
“This is the way I want to thank Comtoyou. I’m really sorry about Nath [Berthon]. I would have liked to see him in P2 in the standings. But this is the way to thank Comtoyou, and I’m so, so happy I cannot describe it. It was a really emotional moment when I crossed the line. When I knew we were going to finish behind the safety car it was really emotional. Although I’ve had bigger victories than this one this is really emotional because of everything that has happened before. Really happy to end this way, thanks to Comtoyou, thanks for all the long night they have done in Bahrain and I’m very happy. I was suffering, even more in Race 1 than in Race 2. Maybe this was the toughest race this season. Really happy it wa by night because if it was by day I’m not really sure I would have made it to the end. It was really tough. I was sorry for Franco that he made the mistake. We all make mistakes, I made one myself in Bahrain, so I was sorry for him. At the same time it really opened the field up for me, so these kind of things happen. It’s racing.”

ESSENTIALS
Location:
Jeddah Corniche, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Track length:
3.450 kilometres
Race 1 distance:
30 minutes + 1 lap
Race 2 distance:
25 minutes + 1 lap
BEST LAPS
WTCR qualifying lap record:
Nathanaël Berthon (Audi RS 3 LMS), 1m16.362s (162.6kph), 26/11/22
WTCR race lap record:
Gilles Magnus (Audi RS 3 LMS), 1m16.986s (161.3kph), 27/11/22