WTCR Race 2 flash: Azcona wins at home as Huff stars again
Home hero Mikel Azcona clinched victory in a dramatic partially reversed-grid Race 2 at WTCR Race of Spain as Rob Huff scored his third consecutive second place in the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup.
The victory marked a third of the season for Goodyear #FollowTheLeader Azcona, who has strengthened his position at the top of the standings.
Cyan Performance Lynk & Co’s Ma Qing Hua made a strong start from pole position, but soon came under attack from fellow front-row starter Norbert Michelisz, whose Hyundai took the lead at Turn 3 – only to make heavy contact with a track limits tyre stack. The impact caused severe damage to the Elantra’s left-rear corner. Meanwhile, Tom Coronel suffered a heavy accident in his Audi, the Dutchman walking away from the scene, as the Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition Safety Car was called upon.
“I’m not really sure what happened,” said Michelisz. “I had the outside up to Turn 3 and had a hit on the right rear and the car was already a bit displaced. It was unfortunate. I need to see the replay.”
Racing resumed on lap four with Ma immediately coming under attack from Zengő Motorsport’s Dániel Nagy, who made a good move on the inside of Turn 1 at the restart to take the lead. But Azcona was quickly on the move, moving past Ma for second place and then taking the lead from Nagy on the following lap. Hungarian Nagy allowed his team-mate Huff through to chase Azcona, but the British driver settled for another excellent second place.
“It’s a very good feeling to win here at home,” said an overjoyed Azcona. “First time here with Hyundai with my friends and family. I’m still leading, it’s a really good feeling and the car was working really well. I could feel Rob was very close to my neck and I was very nervous, he was catching me on the straight and under braking for T16! But in the first sector the car was very good.”
“Absolutely mega,” said CUPRA-driving Huff. “We’ve jumped huge points which is absolutely brilliant. Huge thanks to Dani, who made my life very easy as I think everyone could see. Without him doing that I wouldn’t have been able to get as close to Mikel as I could and put a good enough gap on Santi.
“The first lap was complete carnage, I have no recollection of what happened! I just kept avoiding people and coming out in front of the them. I went from seventh to third in the first five corners. But the car was just mega all weekend.”
Santiago Urrutia got the better of Nagy to secure the final podium position. “I’m happy after a difficult Race 1,” said the Uruguayan. “We didn’t quite have the speed, and I said OK, if I want to be on the podium we need to make a change on the car. Cyan have been working very hard between the races. We didn’t quite match the pace of those ahead, but we improved and were a bit lucky that Norbi crashed.”
King of WTCR Yann Ehrlacher came through from eighth on the grid to finish fifth, aided by Ma allowing him past. The Chinese driver finished sixth, as Yvan Muller fought off a pair of Audis for seventh. Mehdi Bennani pressed Muller hard, then lost a place in the closing stages to Nathanaël Berthon. Behind Bennani, Race 1 winner Gilles Magnus rounded out the top 10 after demoting Thed Björk’s Lynk & Co close to the end.
Esteban Guerrieri completed a difficult weekend for Honda Racing in P12 for ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, with team-mate Néstor Girolami just behind him.
Azcona now holds a commanding 28-point provisional lead over Magnus, with Urrutia and Huff tied for third a further six points back, with Ehrlacher next.