FIA WTCR RACE OF GERMANY
Nürburgring Nordschleife, 10-12 May 2018
WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO, Rounds 7-9 of 30
GREAT GUERRIERI FOLLOWS FANGIO, LÓPEZ WITH RING WIN AS BJÖRK GETS WTCR BID GOING WITH RACE 3 TRIUMPH
*Argentine Guerrieri storms to Race 2 glory at the Nürburgring Nordschleife
*R1 victor Muller takes title lead, Björk makes it a YMR double as seventh winner of 2018
*Vervisch stars in Comtoyou Audi but there’s bad luck for home hero Rast
Touring car legend Yvan Muller was the big winner at the world’s toughest race track, taking the lead of the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO by adding P3 in Race 3 to his Race 1 triumph and move to the top of the title standings after a weekend of drama in Germany.
Argentine Esteban Guerrieri joined his compatriots, the great Juan Manuel Fangio and triple World Touring Car champion José María López, with his first Nurburgring Nordschleife victory following a thrilling drive in Race 2, with Thed Björk claiming his first WTCR OSCARO success of 2018 to complete a memorable event for Muller’s YMR team.
Having won Race 1 on Thursday evening, Frenchman Muller claimed fourth place in Race 2 before completing the podium in Race 3 in his Hyundai i30 N TCR. His performance, coupled with a weekend of woe for erstwhile championship leader Gabriele Tarquini, means he takes a 19-point lead into the next event at Zandvoort, Netherlands from 19-21 May.
In contrast, Italian Tarquini endured a miserable trip to Germany and failed to add to his score after crashing out of both Race 1 and 2, rendering him a non-starter for third counter. Tarquini was checked over by circuit medics but given the all-clear following his Race 2 exit, the result of contact with Gordon Shedden, which earned the Scot a 30-second penalty.
Having lost out to team boss Muller in the first encounter on Thursday from the DHL pole, 2017 World Touring Car champion Björk made the most of his second top start in Race 3. The Swede withheld an impressive challenge from Belgian Frédéric Vervisch’s rapid Audi Sport Team Comtoyou’s RS 3 LMS in the final three-lap battle on Saturday afternoon to become the seventh different winner of an increasingly competitive inaugural WTCR OSCARO season. Vervisch claimed the TAG Heuer Best Lap Trophy following a strong showing.
Earlier in the day, ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport’s Esteban Guerrieri also scored his first victory of 2018 in the reverse-grid Race 2, his Honda Civic Type R TCR beating DHL pole starter Pepe Oriola to victory around the epic 25.378-kilometre circuit. Oriola, in a Team OSCARO by Campos Racing Cupra, was competing on the Nordschleife for the first time.
Another Nordschleife newcomer, Benjamin Lessennes, 18, underlined his potential as a future champion with fourth in Race 3, one place ahead of Nathanaël Berthon. Norbert Michelisz took a fourth and a fifth but crashed out with Rob Huff in Race 3, the Briton having completed the Race 1 podium on Thursday. Michelisz picked up a five-place grid penalty for the next race he contests for his part in the incident.
DTM champion René Rast, competing as a wildcard entrant, was eliminated in a first-lap crash in Race 2 and didn’t start Race 3. Having lined-up on the front row, the German had high hopes but contact with Huff damaged his steering and meant he wouldn’t reach the fourth turn.
Race winner quotes
Yvan Muller (Race 1): “For sure is there is one race to win it’s probably this one. It was fantastic already after qualifying. I was surprised with my pace. I did more than what I thought I would be able to give. Then in the race it was a good start, I tried to manage and keep Thed behind. But with this long straight it’s never done until the end of the last straight. Then it was the victory.”
Esteban Guerrieri (Race 2): “Between driving flat out on the Nordschleife and my Maxwell Smart Agent 86 celebration, which I had planned for a while, I am quite excited and tired. It was a tough race. We knew what was our strong points on the Civic Type R and what were the weak points so we pushed for the strong. I did a very good start and we managed to take P1 and control the race. Yesterday we couldn’t find a good balance. But last night we looked after every detail and made the car as good as it was yesterday. We pushed and here we are, P1.”
Thed Björk (Race 3): “That race was a really nice race for me, I just decided to go for it from the beginning. I had to take Vervisch in the start because my car was set-up for lap time, not top speed, because I knew the Audi would beat me on the straights so I just pushed it to the limit on every corner and was in front. I just made the gap to be in front because he really did catch up on the straight, it’s a long, long straight and he was really fast. Today I got to experience two sides again. The first race I had to stop because [Gordon] Shedden and [Gabriele] Tarquini hit each other up on the long straight after Bergwerk and Tarquini was in the middle of the road exactly like Tiago [Monteiro] was two years ago when Yvan hit him straight on. I locked all my wheels and hit the barrier on the right but I managed to come in so they could repair my car. But inside it’s really difficult because the speed is so high and the accidents can be quite severe. Thankfully my team repaired my car and I can go again. A lot of emotions today and I am happy to be able to take a victory because Yvan won one two days ago and for the team this is very important.”