Race report: Girolami and Michelisz make the Most of their opportunities to win in wide-open WTCR
The WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup boasts an incredible 10 winners from 10 races after Néstor Girolami and Norbert Michelisz became the latest drivers to top the podium in the all-action series when it visited Autodrom Most in Czech Republic for the first time yesterday (Sunday).
WTCR Race of Czech Republic Race 1 top 3
1 Néstor Girolami (ARG) ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R TCR, 26m26.520s.
2 Esteban Guerrieri (ARG) ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R TCR, +1.060s
3 Yann Ehrlacher (FRA) Cyan Racing Lynk & Co, +1.440s
Fastest lap: Néstor Girolami (ARG) ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R TCR, 1m40.057s (151.5kph)
WTCR Race of Czech Republic Race 2 top 3
1 Norbert Michelisz (HUN) BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse, Hyundai Elantra N TCR, 43m40.427s (152.0kph)
2 Mikel Azcona (ESP) Zengő Motorsport, CUPRA Leon Competitión, +1.508s
3 Esteban Guerrieri (ARG) ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R TCR, +11.043s
Fastest lap: Mikel Azcona (ESP) Zengő Motorsport, CUPRA Leon Competitión, 1m39.503s (152.3kph)
Top 5 provisional standings after Round 10
1 Yann Ehrlacher (FRA) Cyan Racing Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR, 135 points
2 Esteban Guerrieri (ARG) ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R TCR, 115
3 Mikel Azcona (ESP) Zengő Motorsport, CUPRA Leon Competitión, 109
4 Santiago Urrutia (URY) Cyan Performance Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR, 105
5 Jean-Karl Vernay (FRA) Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team, 102
Driving a Goodyear-equipped Honda Civic Type R TCR for ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, Girolami triumphed in Race 1 ahead of team-mate Esteban Guerrieri before Michelisz held off a determined Mikel Azcona to win Race 2 for his first victory since WTCR Race of Malaysia in 2019 driving a Hyundai Elantra N TCR for BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse.
By finishing third in Race 1 and hot on Guerrieri’s heels in fourth place in Race 2, Cyan Racing Lynk & Co’s Yann Ehrlacher remains the Goodyear #FollowTheLeader with an increased 20-point margin over new second-placed driver Guerrieri heading to his home event, WTCR Race of France, at Circuit Pau-Arnos next weekend (October 15-17).
There were also strong performances from Yvan Muller, Thed Björk (Cyan Performance Lynk & Co) and Jean-Karl Vernay, who finished fourth, fifth and sixth in Race 1 respectively. Muller was in the top six again in Race 2, taking sixth place behind leading Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport driver Nathanaël Berthon, who finished fifth behind Ehrlacher.
Although a first victory of 2021 got away from CUPRA-powered Race 2 polesitter Mikel Azcona after he slid wide on exiting the first corner, the Spaniard’s second place and capture of the TAG Best Lap Trophy completed a memorable weekend for the Zengő Motorsport driver. Azcona flew back to his native Spain after WTCR Qualifying on Friday to secure his second TCR Europe title by taking a comfortable victory in yesterday’s first race before he flew back to Czech Republic late last night to take part in the two WTCR counters.
Luca Engstler finished as the top FIA WTCR Junior Driver Title contender in both races as Tom Coronel and Gilles Magnus shared the WTCR Trophy wins.
The Most World Weekend also featured an epic finale to the FIM Endurance World Championship for motorbikes when 70 milliseconds separated BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team from YART–Yamaha Official EWC Team in a thrilling finish.
RACE WINNER QUOTES
RACE 1: Néstor Girolami (ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R TCR)
“I was really worried before the start, in front of me T1 is really tight and I knew that somebody can overshoot easily from the inside line because it’s very dirty, so I was already downshifting to first gear so that was the secret to try to come back from that hit, because I went flat out to try to recover and make it happen for T2 and it worked. But the important thing is that we were working very well in terms of how much grip was available at the start because it was completely different as before and also in the starts earlier where we take practice. So the engineers did analysis and it worked, so thanks to them. And then during the race we tried to keep conserving the tyres. I got in info that Attila got a puncture and that was in the middle of the race and there were still five or six laps left. I tried to not complicate Esteban with dirty air so I made a gap every time the engineers asked me, but at the end I think we managed very well. So congratulations ALL-INKL.COM, all the team, all the crew, my crew especially. They are really hard workers and they deserve it, and also for Honda it’s a very nice 1-2, so congratulations Esteban. I missed this feeling to get a 1-2 so thank you to the team. And congratulations to Yann for P3.”
RACE 2: Norbert Michelisz (BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse, Hyundai Elantra N TCR)
“I felt it was a long time coming, that a race victory would come. To be honest it was one of the most difficult races of my career because when I saw I was in front and Mikel was behind I just realised that I needed to give it 100% and fortunately the car was just great. I mean I was attacking, sometimes I was sliding a bit but the balance was just great. In the end I managed to do 15 laps without any big mistakes. But I really enjoyed this fight. From the outside I’m not sure all the people understood what was happening but this race I gave it 110% from lap one until the end. Having Mikel in the mirror is not the most comfortable thing in life as a race car driver. This made it a bit more tricky, but in the end I had confidence in myself and in the car. Thanks to the team again for setting up the car so great. And in the end as a race car driver if you have a tool like I had today, I don’t want to say it’s easy but you have the confidence and then you can push without any big mistake. But congrats to Mikel because it was just amazing to fight like this and to Esteban because he did two fantastic races today. But I’m very happy for myself to be honest. It’s just the confidence boost I wanted and needed.”
WTCR Race of France, Circuit Pau-Arnos, October 15-17