WTCR 2020 in 65 days
Restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic meant the 2020 WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup season took place within an action-packed 65-day window. Here’s a reminder of just some of what happened.
Day 1 (September 12): Néstor Girolami ends the first official practice session on top but it’s Yann Ehrlacher (Q1) and Nathanaël Berthon (Q3) who go quickest in the two points-paying phases of qualifying at WTCR Race of Belgium. Off-track, the WTCR’s biggest ever broadcast distribution package is announced with live coverage in six continents.
Day 2 (September 13): Girolami leads the 22-car grid away in Race 1 and wins at Circuit Zolder ahead of Thed Björk and Attila Tassi as Esteban Guerrieri retires with radiator damage. Berthon converts his Race 2 DHL Pole Position into an early lead only for a jump-start penalty to wreck his hopes of victory. Ehrlacher triumphs instead with Cyan Racing Lynk & Co team-mate and uncle Yvan Muller one place behind. King of WTCR Norbert Michelisz struggles for pace in his BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team-entered i30 N TCR.
Day 12 (September 23): The UZ Leuven University Hospital is selected as the first WTCR #RaceToCare beneficiary in the fight against COVID-19.
Day 13 (September 24): Tassi goes quickest in both free practice sessions on a dry Nürburgring Nordschleife but it’s Girolami who ends the 40-minute qualifying fastest.
Day 14 (September 25): Guerrieri wins Race 1 after pulling off a daring overtake on Muller in wet conditions.
Day 15 (September 26): Ehrlacher takes his second victory of 2020, while a starting procedure breach leaves Girolami with a 30-second penalty.
Day 21 (October 2): Czech Petr Fulín confirms his WTCR Race of Slovakia wildcard entry. Meanwhile, the five-event Esports WTCR season is launched.
Day 26 (October 7): Aurélien Comte is handed a WTCR return after getting the call to replace Jack Young in a Vuković Motorsport Renault Mégane.
Day 29 (October 10): Berthon flies to a DHL Pole Position double in his Comtoyou Audi.
Day 30 (October 11): Berthon, his team-mate Tom Coronel and Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team’s Nicky Catsburg share the three race victories for their first WTCR triumphs. Girolami’s title ambitions are dented by huge Race 2 crash, while WTCR Rookie Driver Gilles Magnus impresses with breakthrough podium.
Day 32 (October 13): Nico Gruber is named is Catsburg’s replacement for WTCR Race of Hungary, while Jose Manuel Sapag’s WTCR debut as a wildcard is confirmed.
Day 36 (October 17): Guerrieri is the WTCR Race of Hungary qualifying master for ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, while WTCR Rookie Driver Bence Boldizs secures the reverse-grid Race 2 pole in a Zengő Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición at his home track, the Hungaroring.
Day 37 (October 18): Title chaser Guerrieri wins twice with his victory in Race 3 part of a Honda-powered all-Münnich podium, but Ehrlacher remains the Goodyear #FollowTheLeader after winning Race 2. Jean-Karl Vernay is unbeatable in the WTCR Trophy for Team Mulsanne.
Day 45 (October 26): Nicolas Baert, the Belgian teenager and son of team boss Jean-Michel, is confirmed as a fourth Comtoyou driver for WTCR Race of Spain.
Day 48 (October 29): With Catsburg testing positive for COVID-19, 2019 TCR Europe title winner Josh Files is announced as the Dutchman’s WTCR Race of Spain replacement.
Day 50 (October 31): A day that begins with confirmation of a second event at MotorLand Aragón in place of the planned WTCR Race of Italy at Adria ends with DHL Pole Positions for Michelisz and Magnus, after Vernay is penalised for a track limits infringement on his Q3 run.
Day 51 (November 1): Home hero Mikel Azcona claims his first victory of 2020 in all-new CUPRA, while Vernay cements his WTCR Trophy title advantage with an outright Race 1 win. Björk wins Race 3 as Cyan Performance Lynk & Co team-mate Santiago Urrutia is the TAG Heuer Most Valuable Driver.
Day 55 (November 5): The Maria-Hilf Hospital in the town of Daun close to the Nürburgring is announced as the latest WTCR #RaceToCare beneficiary.
Day 60 (November 10): With Catsburg unavailable for the season-finale, Malaysian Mitchell Cheah is called up as his replacement.
Day 61 (November 11): In the continued fight against COVID-19, the Nemocnica Dunajská Streda in Slovakia is revealed as the latest medical facility to benefit from the WTCR #RaceToCare fundraising initiative.
Day 64 (November 14): Urrutia takes a pole double, while Ehrlacher will start raceday with a 31-point margin over Guerrieri, who struggles in qualifying.
Day 65 (November 15): Ehrlacher, 24, is crowned King of WTCR as the youngest FIA World Touring Car title winner. Guerrieri stuns by winning Race 1 from P16 on a damp track but contact in Race 2 ends his title dreams for another year. Muller’s Race 2 win puts him second in the final order and ensures Cyan Racing Lynk & Co take the Teams’ title. Vernay wins WTCR Trophy and takes third in the overall standings, while Uruguayan Urrutia converts DHL Pole Position to breakthrough Race 3 triumph.