How Tarquini missed out on making Hyundai WTCR history
A week ago today Gabriele Tarquini was, for a fleeting moment, in line to make a notable piece of WTCR history.
Having given the Hyundai i30 N TCR its debut WTCR victory in 2018, Tarquini came close to doing likewise in the car’s successor, the Elantra N TCR, when the 2021 WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup season began on the Nürburgring Nordschleife on June 5.
After catching and demoting King of WTCR Yann Ehrlacher for second place on lap two of Race 1, Tarquini then drafted past Yvan Muller, in the second Cyan Racing Lynk & Co entry on the long Döttinger Höhe straight.
But the FIA World Touring Car legend then ran wide at the Tiergarten corner, which allowed Muller back in front.
As the string of leading cars began lap three, Tarquini succumbed to pressure from a charging Santiago Urrutia and outbraked himself at Turn 1, running wide and dropping down the pack. In an instant, Tarquini’s hopes of winning for BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse were over, poor reward for a charging performance by the ex-Formula One racer.
“Race 1 was a great start, great fighting until the second lap,” Tarquini explained. “When I overtook Yvan I approached the last corner too fast probably because of the speed on the straight I reach. Then I locked the front, I was wide and I lost a few positions approaching the first corner on the third lap and after I just take care to finish the lap and that’s it. It was my mistake.”
Having made do with sixth place in Race 1, a broken turbo pipe following contact at the first corner of Race 2 led to the Italian’s early exit from the second counter.
But while Tarquini wasn’t quite able to give the Elantra N TCR a WTCR victory, Jean-Karl Vernay pretty much achieved the feat when he took his Elantra N TCR to the Race 2 win for Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team.