WTCR Race 1 flash: Tarquini beats home hero Azcona
Gabriele Tarquini scored his first WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup victory for two years by leading all the way from pole position in the reverse-grid Race 1 at WTCR Race of Spain.
The veteran Italian, whose last win was at WTCR Race of Hungary in 2019, headed home hero Mikel Azcona to score a hard-earned triumph in his Goodyear-equipped, BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse-run Hyundai Elantra N TCR at a sweltering MotorLand Aragón.
Tarquini made a strong getaway to keep his advantage from fellow front-row starter Azcona, who chased him hard in the opening stages before dropping back to score his best result of the year so far in his Goodyear-equipped Zengő Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición.
“I converted pole to victory,” said a satisfied Tarquini. “But the race was not as easy as it looked from the outside. Azcona was pushing until the end. It was a good race. Thanks to Hyundai for a job well done. Even with a lot of weight we are competitive.”
King of WTCR Yann Ehrlacher started third, but was pursued by a trio of Comtoyou Audis led by Tom Coronel. The Dutchman pulled a strong move on lap two to claim third, taking the outside line into the hairpin after the long straight which gave him the inside for Turn 17. Nathanaël Berthon further demoted Ehrlacher as they crossed the start/finish line to start lap three.
On lap six, Coronel allowed Berthon past to chase Tarquini and Azcona, but when he failed to make much impression on the gap the Frenchman allowed his team-mate back through on the last lap to decide the final podium spot.
Cyan Racing Lynk & Co’s Ehrlacher worked hard to hold off Gilles Magnus in his Comtoyou Team Audi Sport entry to claim fifth place. Norbert Michelisz dropped positions from his grid slot on the third row, but recovered to finish seventh, with Race 2 pole position starter Frédéric Vervisch chasing him hard to the flag. The pair made contact on the final lap, but Michelisz rebuffed Vervisch’s attempt to pass.
Goodyear #FollowTheLeader Jean-Karl Vernay finished where he started in ninth, the Frenchman having incurred a three-place grid penalty for holding up Coronel during Q2 on Saturday. Thed Björk completed the top 10 in his Lynk & Co, having started the race from eighth on the grid.
The other points scorers were Yvan Muller who was another to finish where he started in P11, just ahead of fellow Lynk & Co driver Santiago Urrutia. Luca Engstler was P13 in his Hyundai ahead of home hero Jordi Gené. Esteban Guerrieri was the best of the ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCRs in P15, while team-mate Tiago Monteiro served a drive-through penalty for a passing through the pitlane twice during his reconnaissance laps before the start.
Race 2 at WTCR Race of Spain is scheduled to start at 13h15 local time over 12 laps.