WTCR Race 1 flash: Berthon claims first win of season in Alsace GrandEst thriller
Nathanaël Berthon claimed his first WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup victory of the year with a commanding performance in Race 1 at WTCR Race of Alsace GrandEst.
The Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport driver used the superior straightline speed of his Audi RS 3 LMS to out-drag the pole-sitting ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda of Néstor Girolami at the start and was never headed afterwards, although he remained under intense pressure throughout the 30-minute counter.
Home hero Berthon maintained a 0.5s lead for most of the race to secure his second career victory – and his first since the WTCR Race of Slovakia in October 2020.
It was also the third win of 2022 for the Audi RS3 LMS and the second in a row after fellow Comtoyou driver Gilles Magnus triumphed last time out at Vallelunga.
“To get my first win of the season in France is very cool,” Berthon said following his Anneau du Rhin triumph. “I had to push to the maximum whle also trying to manage the tyres and everything else.
“I’m very happy for the team, for all the energy we’ve put in over this season and last season. It’s paid off today.”
Argentine Girolami finished second, ahead of Gilles Magnus’s Comtoyou Audi and BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse’s Mikel Azcona, cutting the gap to the Spaniard in the Goodyear #FollowTheLeader battle from 32 points to 25 – exactly the number of points available from Race 2 later this afternoon.
Girolami’s team-mate Esteban Guerrieri ran fourth during the early stages, but contact at Turn 1 from Magnus sent the Argentinian into a lurid slide across the grass and gravel on lap five.
Guerrieri pitted immediately for new tyres and resumed at the back of the field. He finished 10th and set the fastest lap to underline his potential.
While Comotyou Audi driver Magnus took third on the road, race officials declared that the incident would be investigated post-race.
BRC’s Norbert Michelisz was fifth, passing Tom Coronel’s Comtoyou Audi with five laps to go; the Dutchman sliding wide and losing sixth spot – plus the WTCR Trophy victory – to the Zengő Motorsport CUPRA of Rob Huff at the next turn.
Zengo’s Dániel Nagy made up three spots in the closing laps to finish eighth with LIQUI MOLY Team Engstler’s Tiago Monteiro ninth. His team-mate Attila Tassi had looked set for seventh when he suffered a left-front damaged tyre due to contact with three laps left.
Mehdi Bennani’s Comtoyou Audi finished a lap down in 11th after pitting with a damaged tyre of his own, again due to contact, shortly after a clash with Tassi that sent the Honda driver into a wild slide at quarter-distance.
Race 2 at Circuit l’Anneau du Rhin is due to begin at 16h15 CET with live coverage online and on television around the world.