Esteban Guerrieri and Attila Tassi began their Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship bids by taking a win each at a virtual Salzburgring this afternoon (Sunday) with all the thrilling action shown on Eurosport and other broadcasters around the world.
The high-speed layout of the Austrian track delivered two drama-packed slipstream battles with Argentine Guerrieri’s capture of eighth place in Race 2 helping him to the top of the title standings by five points over Slovakia’s Mato Homola, who followed Guerrieri’s Honda home in Race 1.
Norbert Michelisz, the ultimate gamer-turned-racer who won the 2019 WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup, finished third in Race 1 following a close battle with his fellow Hungarian Bence Boldizs.
Honda-powered Hungarian Tassi held on for the Race 2 victory after a late attempt by a charging Mikel Azcona (CUPRA) to take first place failed. Azcona, from Spain, had gone fastest in the lap-one Superpole contest to claim the DHL Pole Position for Race 1. However, contact with Yann Ehrlacher’s Lynk & Co, the fastest overall qualifier, wrecked his hopes of winning the opening contest.
With the real WTCR set to kick off at Salzburgring in September, the Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship opener provided an exciting virtual taster of what’s to come in a few months from now. It also underlined the fact the remaining five events of the Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship, which is exclusively for WTCR drivers, are not to be missed.
RESULTS AT A GLANCE
1 Esteban Guerrieri (Argentina) ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR
2 Mato Homola (Slovakia) BRC Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR
3 Norbert Michelisz (Hungary) BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse Hyundai i30 N TCR
DHL Position: Mikel Azcona (Spain) CUPRA Racing CUPRA Leon Competición
Fastest lap: Yann Ehrlacher (France) Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR
1 Attila Tassi (Hungary) ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR
2 Mikel Azcona (Spain) CUPRA Racing CUPRA Leon Competición
3 Niels Langeveld (Netherlands) Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Audi RS 3 LMS
DHL Pole Position: Thed Björk (Sweden) Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR
Fastest lap: Niels Langeveld (Netherlands) Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Audi RS 3 LMS
*There’s drama at the first turn: Azcona and Ehrlacher collide, Tassi is nudged into a spin, Comte and Priaulx are also in trouble
*Guerrieri snatches early lead, Homola and Boldizs battle side by side, Michelisz closes up
*Muller takes to the grass and makes light contact with Björk after an attempt to pass Engstler fails
*Ehrlacher, fighting back from his T1 delay, engages in battle with Langeveld. At one point he jumps the first chicane in his efforts to get ahead but Langeveld resists the pressure
*Ceccon goes wide in his scrap with Coronel
*As the clock runs down, Michelisz overtakes Boldizs who remains latched to the King of WTCR’s tail to the finish
*Ehrlacher closes up to Boldizs on the last lap but it’s too late: Boldizs holds on for fourth behind winner Guerrieri, second-placed Homola and Michelisz in third
*Néstor Girolami, who collided with Muller in qualifying, rounds out the top six
*Björk makes a good start from the reverse-grid pole but he overshoots the first chicane, runs over the kerbs, loses momentum and allows Tassi to pass
*Michelisz also demotes the Swede starting lap two, but Björk remains in touching distance of his Hyundai-driving rival
*Azcona, from eighth on the grid, is on a charge and passes Langeveld for fourth place with an impressive around-the-outside move on lap three
*Within a lap the CUPRA-driving Spaniard is up to second having overtaken Björk and Michelisz in quick succession, despite a scare at T11 when he puts two wheels on the grass
*Langeveld and Michelisz battle hard for third with Ehrlacher behind Michelisz in fifth
*A nudge from Homola sends Björk sideways in the fight for sixth
*Comte and Girolami join the battle for sixth but Comte loses out when he clashes with Girolami at the first chicane
*Guerrieri passes Boldizs for eighth
*Azcona closes on Tassi, tries to pass on the final lap but can’t make the move stick at Turn 12 and settles for second with Langeveld third
THE WINNERS SAID WHAT?
Esteban Guerrieri (Race 1): “That was nice. Unfortunately, Yann and Azcona tangled in the first chicane, which is quite tricky… cold brakes… very tight… So, after that I got a clean road, I still had to push because Mato was behind me, pushing quite hard. I’m happy to get the first win and good points for the championship, congratulations to Mato and to Norbi for P3.”
Attila Tassi (Race 2): “The first race was not as we planned, I was in a big crash, but in Race 2 I managed to have a good start, overtook Björk and then just wanted to pull a gap to not have slipstream with the guys behind me. Afterwards, when Mikel got P2, he was catching lap by lap. I tried to manage my tyres as much as I could for the end, but in the first chicane I lost too much to Mikel and we had some close fight in the end. But, luckily, we finish on the top, I’m very happy.”
Race 1 (12 minutes):
1 Esteban Guerrieri (ARG), ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R TCR, 12m57.727s
2 Mato Homola (SVK), BRC Racing Team, Hyundai i30 N TCR +1.733s
3 Norbert Michelisz (HUN), BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse, Hyundai i30 N TCR +4.113s
4 Yann Ehrlacher (FRA), Cyan Racing Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR +4.355s
5 Bence Boldizs (HUN), Zengő Motorsport, CUPRA Leon Competición +4.530s
6 Néstor Girolami (ARG), ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R TCR +5.817s
7 Tiago Monteiro (PRT), ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R TCR +12.621s
8 Kevin Ceccon (ITA), Team Mulsanne, Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR by Romeo Ferraris +19.763s
9 Yvan Muller (FRA), Cyan Racing Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR +20.004s
10 Thed Björk (SWE), Cyan Performance Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR +20.405s
Race 2 (12 minutes):
1 Attila Tassi (HUN), ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R TCR, 12m59.258s
2 Mikel Azcona (ESP), CUPRA Racing, CUPRA Leon Competición +0.216s
3 Niels Langeveld (Netherlands), Comtoyou Team Audi Sport, Audi RS 3 LMS +1.600s
4 Norbert Michelisz (HUN), BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse, Hyundai i30 N TCR +2.926
5 Yann Ehrlacher (FRA), Cyan Racing Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR +4.506s
6 Mato Homola (SVK), BRC Racing Team, Hyundai i30 N TCR +7.012s
7 Néstor Girolami (ARG), ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R TCR +7.415s
8 Esteban Guerrieri (ARG), ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R TCR +8.314s
9 Bence Boldizs (HUN), Zengő Motorsport, CUPRA Leon Competición +8.509s
10 Aurélien Comte (FRA), DG Sport Compétition, Peugeot 308TCR +9.737s
PROVISIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS AFTER ROUND 2 OF 12:
1 Esteban Guerrieri, 36 points
2 Mato Homola, 31
3 Norbert Michelisz, 29
4 Yann Ehrlacher, 28
5 Attila Tassi, 25
6 Mikel Azcona, 25
7 Bence Boldizs, 20
8 Néstor Girolami, 19
9 Niels Langeveld, 16
10 Kevin Ceccon, 11
The Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship heads next to a virtual Hungaroring on 21 June with all the action on Eurosport at 22h30 CET, subject to final scheduling.
Missed the action?
Catch the replays on the WTCR’s social media channels from 19h00 CET today (Sunday).
The Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship explained
Held over six weekends until 19 July on the RaceRoom Racing Experience platform, the Pre-season Sports WTCR Championship gives fans the chance to watch virtual WTCR racing with a difference.
All drivers taking part will have a webcam and microphone connected, making it possible for viewers to see and hear their heroes during the races. The microphone feature will also allow drivers to be interviewed as well as interacting with their rivals. Videos of drivers on their simulators, at home and enjoying some fun moments will also be shared during the one-hour shows.
New-for-2020-liveries will be used with six epic tracks, including three that will feature in the real WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup, providing the challenge.
Each Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship event will feature a 10-minute qualifying session followed by a top-five Superpole shootout, which will be included in the official broadcast.
Race 1 will last for 12 minutes with the grid using the combined qualifying results. Race 2 will also last for 12 minutes but with the top 10 qualifying results reversed to form the first five rows of the grid. Cars will appear as they will look when the WTCR begins, as planned, for real later this year.
Making it happen for the fans
Organised to give WTCR drivers the chance to engage with fans through the WTCR’s social media platforms while they wait the start of the 2020 campaign and a prelude to the full Esports WTCR online championship due to begin later this year, the Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship from RaceRoom in partnership with Eurosport Events lists Goodyear, TAG Heuer, DHL, KW Suspensions, TrackTime and Liqui Moly as partners with a TAG Heuer watch going to the champion. The series will promote the FIA’s #RaceAtHome campaign.
More than a game: Click here to view the Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship announcement.