WTCR Race 2 flash: Tassi wins after home heartbreak for Monteiro
Home hero Tiago Monteiro lost what looked like a certain victory in Race 2 at WTCR Race of Portugal because of a loose bonnet, as team-mate Attila Tassi picked up the lead to score a dramatic first WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup win at Circuito do Estoril.
Tassi’s triumph makes the 22-year-old Hungarian ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport Honda driver the second youngest winner in WTCR history.
The drama began from the start as Esteban Guerrieri failed to get away from pole position and dropped down the order, as Monteiro beside him stormed into the lead. But as in Race 1, the Honda Civic Type R TCR Limited Edition safety car was soon called upon after Mikel Azcona made contact with Tom Coronel, the Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS 3 LMS taking a hard hit into a barrier. Azcona was given a drive through penalty for causing a collision, but retired with damage.
Racing resumed on lap three as Monteiro began to build a lead – until the right-hand side of his bonnet came loose and he was forced to pit.
That left Tassi fighting off a trio of Hyundais as Jean-Karl Vernay, Norbert Michelisz and Gabriele Tarquini chased the young gun hard over the final five laps.
“It was a mega race,” said Tassi. “First of all I’m really sorry for Esteban and even more for Tiago. But it’s déjà vu. Two years ago at Vila Real it was the same, but the other way around. This is my first win in WTCR and I’m very happy, but it should have been two years ago. But what happens comes around in the future.”
Vernay’s second place means he is once again the Goodyear #FollowTheLeader, having lost the status to Monteiro after failing to finish in Race 1. “I wasn’t thinking about the championship, it was a good race,” said the Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team driver. “When Esteban didn’t get away Attila was able to overtake me. Sorry for Tiago, he was a solid leader. But after Race 1, which was unfortunate let’s say, it’s good. I’m happy.”
Behind the trio of Hyundais Santiago Urrutia claimed fifth place in his Cyan Performance Lynk & Co 03 TCR ahead of Race 1 winner Yann Ehrlacher and Thed Björk. Guerrieri blamed a distraction caused by his anti-lag for his poor start, but the Argentine recovered well to finish eighth. He beat Yvan Muller’s Lynk & Co and Rob Huff’s Zengő Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición after an entertaining scrap.
Frédéric Vervisch finished P11 in his Comtoyou Team Audi Sport entry ahead of Nathanaël Berthon. Néstor Girolami, who had been due to start third on the grid, climbed from the back to finish in P13, his ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport team having been forced to break parc fermé rules after Race 1 to repair damage to the front end of his car.
Gilles Magnus finished P14 as the top FIA WTCR Junior Driver Title after Luca Engstler was forced to retire because his right-front Goodyear tyre was rubbing against the Hyundai’s bodywork following contact. Jordi Gené scored the final point in P15 for Zengő Motorsport Drivers’ Academy.