WTCR Race 2 flash: Vervisch scores maiden win for new Audi
Frédéric Vervisch scored a maiden victory for the second-generation Audi RS 3 LMS in the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup by winning Race 2 at WTCR Race of Spain from pole position.
The victory on Goodyear tyres also marked a first win for the Comtoyou Team Audi Sport-entered Belgian since WTCR Race of Slovakia in 2019, as he led Thed Bjork’s Cyan Performance Lynk & Co 03 TCR all the way at MotorLand Aragón in temperatures topping 32 degrees.
Björk was chased hard by Gilles Magnus (Comtoyou Audi), the young Belgian tapping the Swede’s Lynk & Co at the hairpin on one lap but never finding a way past. That meant it was a Belgian and Audi 1-3 after 13 laps.
“I got a mega start,” said a delighted Vervisch. “Thed was quicker in some place and I was quicker in the others, but I was worried he was saving his tyres for the end. The safety car I didn’t like, but it seemed we had more pace.”
There was drama at the start when Mikel Azcona, second in Race 1, failed to get away from ninth on the grid, forcing those behind him to scatter around his stricken Zengő Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición. Behind Vervisch, Björk and Magnus, Norbert Michelisz and Goodyear #FollowTheLeader Jean-Karl Vernay held their grid positions in fourth and fifth – but both soon came under pressure from the Comtoyou Audis of Nathanaël Berthon and Tom Coronel.
Michelisz soon began to struggle, reporting on his radio “a big vibration on the front right”, and from lap seven he started to slip back. Vernay came past for fourth position, which he would hold to the chequered flag – despite also reporting “big noises and a vibration”.
Berthon demoted Michelisz further on lap eight, but the following time around there was heartbreak for Coronel who was forced to park his Audi out on the circuit. That brought out the Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition safety car as his RS 3 LMS was recovered.
After just a single lap behind the safety car, racing resumed with Vervisch making a clean getaway to protect his lead. Race 1 winner Gabriele Tarquini had passed Michelisz just before Coronel’s retirement, leaving him to chase Berthon to the flag to finish sixth in his Hyundai. But Michelisz didn’t make it to the end: damage to his right-front tyre at the final corner at the end of the penultimate lap forced him out.
That promoted King of WTCR Yann Ehrlacher to seventh. Combined with his fifth place in Race 1, the result pushed Ehrlacher up to second in the WTCR points, just eight behind Vernay.
Behind Ehrlacher, Luca Engstler’s Hyundai finished eighth ahead of the scrapping Rob Huff and Yvan Muller. Huff’s CUPRA had passed Muller’s Lynk & Co when the Frenchman ran wide at Turn 1 on lap seven, but on the last lap the four-time World Touring Car champion came back at his old rival. Muller tapped Huff into a half-spin at Turn Eight, but the British driver held the moment brilliantly and kept ahead to secure a ninth place finish.
Esteban Guerrieri was the best of the ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCRs in P11, ahead of Azcona who recovered well from his disastrous start. He headed the Hondas of Néstor Girolami, Tiago Monteiro and Attila Tassi in the final points-paying positions.
Along with Coronel, Santiago Urrutia failed to finish after his Lynk & Co sustained broken suspension after contact. He had run as high as P11 before he was forced out.