WTCR Race 1 flash: Magnus holds off Huff for stunning Aragon victory

2022-06-26T12:35:41+02:00June 26th, 2022|2022, WTCR Race of Spain 2022|

Gilles Magnus fought off huge pressure from Rob Huff to win Race 1 at WTCR Race of Spain after a frantic dice in the sweltering MotorLand Aragón sunshine.

The pair ran nose to tail from lights to flag as Huff gave it everything in his Zengő Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición, but couldn’t quite find a way to pass the Goodyear-equipped Comtoyou Team Audi Sport RS 3 LMS as Magnus claimed his second career WTCR win and Audi’s first of the 2022 season.

Starting from pole position, Magnus just about kept the lead over a hard-fought first few corners as fellow Audi-powered Comtoyou driver Nathanaël Berthon dropped from second to fourth. King of WTCR Yann Erhlacher demoted Berthon through Turns 1 and 2, as Huff also found a way past the Frenchman. Huff, who had started fourth, then pulled a move on Ehrlacher to claim second place and set off after Magnus.

Berthon re-passed Ehrlacher on lap two as the pair made contact, the Lynk & Co losing three places as Yvan Muller and Goodyear #FollowTheLeader Mikel Azcona also overtook. Azcona was the driver on the move, rising from eighth on the grid. He passed Muller and chased Berthon hard all the way to just miss out on a podium finish in his home race.

“I’m so happy, this was a tough race,” said a delighted Magnus. “Sixteen laps with Mr Senior as I call him, Mr Huff, on my ass! Really tough. I was sweating all the race long but we’ve done it, I’m so happy. P1 and P3 for the team is great. It’s a shame Nath couldn’t keep P2. We both had a bad start I think. Maybe mine was bad due to the stress, but we’ve won!”

Huff was also delighted after his second consecutive closely fought runner-up finish. “Zengő Motorsport’s CUPRA is on a mission at the moment,” he said. “Every time we are quicker and quicker and more comfortable and confident. I know I keep repeating that, but it’s true and it’s showing on track. I had a great start, managed to jump Nath off the start and got up the inside of Yann at Turns 2 and 3 and I wasn’t going to back out of that one.

“Then I put Gilles under as much pressure as possible. He made a couple of small mistakes, but not enough for me to get past. I got alongside twice, but I’m just mega-chuffed and great points.”

“That was not easy, as ever,” said Berthon. “Unbelievable pace. Congrats to Gilles, a victory is always good. I did my best, but I did not want to be aggressive at the start because we are team-mates and I lost two positions, so it was not easy. Then with Yann we had a good fight and unfortunately under braking he crossed a bit my line and I was already braking so I couldn’t avoid him. It was a small touch, but anyway we were fast in the race and we deserved the podium.”

Behind Azcona, his BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse team-mate Norbert Michelisz also proved quick in his Elantra N TCR and rose from ninth on the grid to finish fifth. An unhappy Ehrlacher was sixth after his uncle Muller allowed him back past.

Santiago Urrutia finished eighth from sixth on the grid, with Thed Björk rising from 12th to finish ninth and complete a train of four Lynk & Cos in a row. Mehdi Bennani completed the top 10 in his Comtoyou Audi on his first race at MotorLand Aragón.

Esteban Guerrieri was the first of the Honda Civic Type R TCRs in P11, with ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport team-mate Néstor Girolami next, ahead of Race 2 pole position starter Ma Qing Hua and Tiago Monteiro.

Attila Tassi, Tom Coronel and Dániel Nagy all retired from the race, Nagy after striking a bollard, breaking a wheel rim, losing a wheel arch and air from his tyre.

The result means Azcona now leads Magnus in the provisional standings by eight points, with Ehrlacher and Girolami tied in third.

Race 2 at WTCR Race of Spain is due to take place at 15h15 CET.