Tarquini heads home hero Michelisz as Girolami takes WTCR title lead

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*Italian’s Race 3 win over DHL pole-sitter Michelisz means history repeats itself in Hungary *Girolami adds Race 2 triumph to Saturday victory to top title table *Podiums for Ehrlacher, Guerrieri, Muller, Vernay and rookie Haglöf *Super-close qualifying action with top 21 covered by 0.8s in Sunday Q1 *FIA Girls on Track team go behind-the-scenes at the Hungaroring *Hungarian national football team manager Marco Rossi meets Michelisz and Tassi

FIA WTCR Race of Hungary: Race report, 28 April
WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO 2019
Rounds 4, 5 and 6 of 30, Hungaroring, 26-28 April

The WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO delivered a weekend of hugely close and action-packed racing as Honda-powered Néstor Girolami took a double win to move into the lead on the #RoadToMalaysia, venue of the season super-finale in December.

But while there was joy for Argentina, the thousands of Hungarian fans cheering home hero Norbert Michelisz had to make do with second place following Gabriele Tarquini’s Race 3 victory at the expense of his BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse team-mate.

As in 2018, Michelisz started on the DHL Pole Position but was unable to keep Tarquini – the inaugural WTCR / OSCARO title winner – at bay.

After finishing third in Race 1 to take the title lead, Esteban Guerrieri was fifth in Race 2 before dropping out of the Race 3 lead when an electrical issue triggered a momentary power loss. And it would get worse for the ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport driver when he crashed into retirement later on with broken steering, the legacy of damage sustained in Race 2.

Yvan Muller bagged his first podium of 2019 with second in Race 1, while his nephew and fellow Lynk & Co-powered racer Yann Ehrlacher took third in Race 3, which, like Race 2, took place on a damp track. Click here to find out how Néstor Girolami won an enthralling Race 2 epic.

Jean-Karl Vernay started the reverse-grid Race 2 from the DHL Pole Position but a clutch problem led to a sluggish start. He finished second ahead of Hungaroring rookie Daniel Haglöf, the Swede claiming the new PWR Racing’s second podium of the season, one place ahead of CUPRA-driving team-mate Mikel Azcona, who also took fourth in Race 3.

Aurélien Panis was fifth in Race 1 for Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing. Thed Björk, who arrived in Hungary leading the standings, came away with a weekend-best fifth in Race 3. Rob Huff took the TAG Heuer Best Lap Trophy for his rapid effort in Race 3 at the wheel of his SLR Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR.

Race 3 report: Tarquini and Michelisz head BRC one-two
Gabriele Tarquini claimed his second victory of the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO season in Race 3 at WTCR Race of Hungary to head local hero and team-mate Norbert Michelisz for a BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse one-two.

The Italian and his Hungarian team-mate assumed the first two positions after early leader Esteban Guerrieri hit trouble in his ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR. “He lost power,” Tarquini explained. “After that I just had to control the pace. My car was fantastic. There was a small amount of water [rain], but the tyres were okay and the balance was exactly how I wanted it, so thank you to the team and Hyundai.”

He also expressed sympathy for Michelisz, who missed out on a victory in front of his home fans. “I’m really sorry for him,” said the Italian. “Last year we finished in the same order and I know how much he wanted to win here.”

At the start, front row starter Guerrieri got the drop on DHL Pole Position man Michelisz, who lost a further place to Tarquini at Turn 2 after the inaugural WTCR / OSCARO title winner made it through on the outside line in a move that would prove decisive.

Guerrieri lost his lead to the two Hyundais on lap five when he momentarily slowed with a power issue. The Honda then crashed out from third place at the final turn on lap 11 with broken steering. Guerrieri nosed into a barrier and the accident enforced a safety car interlude.

Action resumed on lap 15, but an accident for Team Mulsanne’s Kevin Ceccon in his Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR meant the race finished under the safety car.

Behind the top two, five other customer racing brands filled the top 10 as the #WTCR2019SUPERGRID put on another intense and tight show. Following Gurrieri’s retirement, Yann Ehrlacher inherited the final podium position for Cyan Performance Lynk & Co, while Mikel Azcona completed a strong weekend for PWR Racing with fourth in his Cupra TCR.

Thed Björk was fifth in his Lynk & Co, ahead of Race 1 and 2 double winner Néstor Girolami who leaves Hungary with the WTCR / OSCARO points lead on the #RoadToMalaysia. He held off SLR VW Motorsport’s Rob Huff for sixth, with Augusto Farfus, Nicky Catsburg and Jean-Karl Vernay completing the top 10.

There was misfortune for Race 2 podium finisher Daniel Haglöf, who dropped out of ninth place in his PWR Racing Cupra with a puncture. Meanwhile, Yvan Muller was handed a drive-through penalty for first-lap contact with his team-mate Andy Priaulx and later pulled into the pits to retire. The final points finishers were Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing’s Aurélien Panis in P11, ahead of Frédéric Vervisch, Tom Coronel, KCMG’s Attila Tassi and Mehdi Bennani.

FIA’s Girls on Track European Team go behind the scenes in WTCR / OSCARO
The six-strong European Team selected from the FIA’s Girls on Track European Final enjoyed a behind-the-scenes visit to WTCR Race of Hungary. They took part in a packed programme of activities including meeting several WTCR / OSCARO drivers, team representatives and officials, plus FIA delegates. They were also each treated to a high-speed lap of the track in an Audi RS 3 LMS, went trackside to watch First Qualifying and participated in the Race 1 press conference alongside national and international journalists. The European Team featured Maja Hallén Fellenius (Sweden), Matilde Fidalgo (Portugal), Anna Glaerum (Sweden) and Milja Kukkonen (Finland), Nina Pothof (Netherlands) and Michalina Sabaj (Poland).

Rossi scores a flying lap and a meeting with two Hungarian aces
Hungarian national football team manager Marco Rossi was among the VIP guests at WTCR Race of Hungary. The Italian met Hungarian WTCR / OSCARO racers Norbert Michelisz and Attila Tassi, was treated to a guided tour of the KCMG team and also got a high-speed lap of the track with Niels Langeveld in an Audi RS 3 LMS. “I already did a lap in a Formula One two-seater but this was exciting at the same level, very high level of adrenalin in the curves but also the speed was very high,” said Rossi. “It was really exciting, to be honest I started sweating. I like very much motor racing and after these kinds of laps more but I am not so good to drive at this level for sure.”

Race 1 report
Race 2 report
Provisional results and standings

What’s next? WTCR Race of Slovakia, 9-12 May: https://www.fiawtcr.com/event/wtcr-race-of-slovakia-2019/

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