WTCR Race 3 flash: Björk claims second Zandvoort win
Thed Björk scored his second victory of the WTCR Race of Netherlands weekend as discussions over team orders became a talking point at Zandvoort.
Björk had made the better getaway from the line, but DHL Pole Position driver Yann Ehrlacher, in another Lynk & Co 03 TCR, moved to the right to block and made contact with his team-mate, who still accelerated into the lead.
But as they started lap three, the order on the radio was to “swap positions on the main straight”, and Björk obliged over fears Ehrlacher would be penalised for his attempts to hold onto first place at the start.
Ehrlacher then led until lap six when it was clear he would not be penalised beyond receiving a driving standards flag and the decision was taken to order Björk back through to the front, a position he held to the flag for his third win of 2019.
“I had a perfect start,” said Björk, who also won Race 1 on Saturday. “Yann thought he had a perfect start too and wanted to be first into the first corner. But I was there and took it. I understand. We all want to be first.”
Young Frenchman Ehrlacher was clearly upset and responded emotionally over team radio, saying: “I have the weakest engine,” a reference to a power issue he reported afterwards. He eventually gave up on what would have been his first victory of the season and let Björk back through on lap 11 to claim a third win of 2019.
Behind the pair, Augusto Farfus looked set for his first podium finish in the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO, only for fellow BRC Hyundai driver and title contender Norbert Michelisz to pass him on the last lap after the order was given to help Michelisz’s stronger title prospects.
Yvan Muller, who became involved in Cyan’s team order discussions via the radio during the race, finished where he started in fifth having lost his DHL Pole Position for non-compliance regarding the maximum boost pressure and the maximum engine speed values as published in the Balance of Performance chart issued for the event.
PWR Racing’s Mikel Azcona completed a strong weekend with more #RoadToMalaysia points in sixth, ahead of Race 2 podium finisher Johan Kristoffersson of SLR Volkswagen. Race 2 winner Esteban Guerrieri was eighth for ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, with BRC’s Gabriele Tarquini and SLR’s Rob Huff completing the top 10.
The other points finishers were local hero Nicky Catsburg in P11, ahead of Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing’s Aurélien Panis, Mehdi Bennani and Andy Priaulx. Non-finishers included Race 2 runner-up Benjamin Leuchter, whose Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR dropped out of P13 on lap 11, and Jean-Karl Vernay who pulled up on the last lap.