Epic Estoril serves up victories for 2020 title winner Ehrlacher and fellow young gun Tassi
Having recently turned 22, Tassi is youngest driver to triumph in WTCR
Pride of Portugal Monteiro leading Race 2 until opening bonnet drops him back
Vernay loses Goodyear #FollowTheLeader status then wins it back with Race 2 podium
Muller and Urrutia complete Lynk & Co-powered Race 1 top three behind Ehrlacher
Magnus scores a FIA WTCR Junior Driver/WTCR Trophy double
WTCR Race of Portugal, Circuito do Estoril, June 25-27, 2021: Race report
WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup, rounds 3 and 4 of 16
WTCR Race of Portugal Race 1 top 3
1 Yann Ehrlacher (FRA), Cyan Racing Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR, 28m28.096s (142.8kph)
2 Yvan Muller (FRA) Cyan Racing Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR +1.746s
3 Santiago Urrutia (URY) Cyan Performance Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR +3.411s
Fastest lap: Yann Ehrlacher (FRA), Cyan Racing Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR, 1m45.384s (142.8kph)
WTCR Race of Portugal Race 2 top 3
1 Attila Tassi (HUN) ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR, 29m04.501s (143.1kph)
2 Jean-Karl Vernay (FRA) Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team, Hyundai Elantra N TCR, +1.030s
3 Norbert Michelisz (HUN) BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR, +1.553s
Fastest lap: Tassi (HUN) ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR, 1m45.150s (143.1kph)
Top 5 provisional standings after Round 4
1 Jean-Karl Vernay (FRA) Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team, Hyundai Elantra N TCR, 61 points
2 Attila Tassi (HUN) ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR, 56
3 Yvan Muller (FRA) Cyan Racing Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR, 56
4 Santiago Urrutia (URY) Cyan Performance Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR, 56
5 Tiago Monteiro (PRT) ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R TCR, 52
Young stars Yann Ehrlacher and Attila Tassi came out on top at WTCR Race of Portugal as Circuito do Estoril served up two action-packed counters.
Frenchman Ehrlacher, the 24-year-old King of WTCR following his 2020 title triumph, won Race 1 followed by Lynk & Co-powered Cyan team-mates Yvan Muller, from France, and Uruguayan Santiago Urrutia. Tiago Monteiro was leading Race 2 after pole-sitter Esteban Guerrieri was slow getting away, but the Portuguese hero was forced to pit when the right side of his car’s bonnet opened.
That let in his ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport team-mate Tassi to claim his maiden WTCR victory aged 22 years and 13 days, making the Goodyear-equipped Hungarian the youngest winner in the history of the WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup.
Jean-Karl Vernay arrived in Portugal as the Goodyear #FollowTheLeader, retired from Race 1 and lost the status to Monteiro but then regained the coveted blue jacket by finishing second in Race 2 for Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team. BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse’s Norbert Michelisz claimed his first podium of 2021 in another Elantra N TCR.
Monteiro finished fourth in Race 1, one place head of Guerrieri with Mikel Azcona rising from P13 to sixth in his Zengő Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición, only for a post-race penalty to drop him to P10. Tassi was also penalised and finished seventh behind Thed Björk. Gilles Magnus, who bagged a FIA Junior Driver/WTCR Trophy win double in his Comtoyou Racing-run, second-generation Audi RS 3 LMS was eighth followed by Rob Huff, whose points were his first since his WTCR comeback.
After tyre damage robbed Gabriele Tarquini of a Race 1 podium, the Italian fought up to fourth in Race 2 ahead of Urrutia, Ehrlacher, Björk and Guerrieri following his delayed getaway. Former FIA World Touring Car champions Muller and Huff completed the top 10. Magnus took another FIA Junior Driver/WTCR Trophy double with Jessica Bäckman second in both categories for Target Competition. Her older brother Andreas took his first WTCR point with P15 in Race 1.
Tassi, meanwhile, had double cause for celebration when he bagged the TAG Heuer Best Lap Trophy.
Race 1 report: King of WTCR Ehrlacher heads Lynk & Co-powered 1-2-3
King of WTCR Yann Ehrlacher scored his first victory of 2021 after beating pole position starter Gabriele Tarquini off the line in Race 1 at WTCR Race of Portugal.
The Cyan Racing Lynk & Co driver headed a Goodyear-equipped Lynk & Co 03 TCR 1-2-3 ahead of uncle Yvan Muller and Santiago Urrutia after Tarquini was forced out by tyre damage. “The race start was good,” said Ehrlacher. “It was my only chance if I wanted to win and I managed to pass him into Turn 1.”
Tiago Monteiro finished fourth in his ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR to become the new Goodyear #FollowTheLeader after title rivals Jean-Karl Vernay and Néstor Girolami failed to finish.
Starting on the inside of the front row, Ehrlacher made it down to Turn 1 beside Tarquini to take a lead he would never lose as behind him Girolami ran into the back of Norbert Michelisz, the Hyundai then making contact with Attila Tassi’s Honda which was knocked sideways. Vernay also found himself caught up in the drama and picked up a right-front puncture, due to contact, that cost him his Goodyear #FollowTheLeader status, while Girolami stopped out on track with heavy front-end damage to his Honda and Michelisz toured back to the pits.
Following a short intervention by the Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition safety car, the racing action resumed on lap four as Ehrlacher made a good getaway to stop Tarquini challenging his lead. “The safety car didn’t make my life easier because he had good top speed,” said Ehrlacher.
But his life was soon made easier when Tarquini was forced out by his tyre problem, the result of debris on the track from contact, on lap nine, leaving Muller and Urrutia to follow Ehrlacher home.
Behind the trio of Lynk & Cos, Tiago Monteiro and Esteban Guerrieri made the most of the first-corner problems to rise from ninth and P10 on the grid to run fourth and fifth. Team discussion on the radio eventually persuaded Monteiro to give up fourth to allow Guerrieri to attack the Lynk & Cos, but when the Argentine failed to make any impression he gave the place back to Monteiro just before the finish line, as the Portuguese became the new Goodyear #FollowTheLeader. “I said it was going to be interesting and it was!” said Monteiro. “I am happy with P4 from P9 after taking advantage of the mess at the first corner and it is good for the championship.”
Mikel Azcona put in a superb performance behind the two Hondas to rise from P13 on the grid to finish sixth in his Zengő Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición. Tassi was seventh in his Honda after a trip through a gravel trap ahead of Thed Björk’s Cyan Performance Lynk & Co, while Gilles Magnus took FIA WTCR Junior Driver Title honours in ninth in his Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Audi RS 3 LMS, having started P15.
Rob Huff battled hard to complete the top 10 in his Zengő Motorsport CUPRA, holding off Nathanaël Berthon’s Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport entry and Luca Engstler’s Hyundai which was also caught up in the trouble at Turn 1. The German reported his steering was “a bit to the left”, but it didn’t stop him putting in a spirited performance.
Frédéric Vervisch (Audi), Jordi Gené (CUPRA) and Andreas Bäckman completed the points finishers with Swede Bäckman scoring for the first time.
Race 2 report: Tassi wins after home heartbreak for Monteiro
Home hero Tiago Monteiro lost what looked like a certain victory in Race 2 at WTCR Race of Portugal because of a loose bonnet, as team-mate Attila Tassi picked up the lead to score a dramatic first WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup win at Circuito do Estoril.
Tassi’s triumph makes the 22-year-old Hungarian ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport Honda driver the youngest winner in WTCR history.
The drama began from the start as Esteban Guerrieri failed to get away from pole position and dropped down the order, as Monteiro beside him stormed into the lead. But as in Race 1, the Honda Civic Type R TCR Limited Edition safety car was soon called upon after Mikel Azcona made contact with Tom Coronel, the Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS 3 LMS taking a hard hit into a barrier. Azcona was given a drive through penalty for causing a collision, but retired with damage.
Racing resumed on lap three as Monteiro began to build a lead – until the right-hand side of his bonnet came loose and he was forced to pit.
That left Tassi fighting off a trio of Hyundais as Jean-Karl Vernay, Norbert Michelisz and Gabriele Tarquini chased the young gun hard over the final five laps.
“It was a mega race,” said Tassi. “First of all I’m really sorry for Esteban and even more for Tiago. But it’s déjà vu. Two years ago at Vila Real it was the same, but the other way around. This is my first win in WTCR and I’m very happy, but it should have been two years ago. But what happens comes around in the future.”
Vernay’s second place means he is once again the Goodyear #FollowTheLeader, having lost the status to Monteiro after failing to finish in Race 1. “I wasn’t thinking about the championship, it was a good race,” said the Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team driver. “When Esteban didn’t get away Attila was able to overtake me. Sorry for Tiago, he was a solid leader. But after Race 1, which was unfortunate let’s say, it’s good. I’m happy.”
Behind the trio of Hyundais Santiago Urrutia claimed fifth place in his Cyan Performance Lynk & Co 03 TCR ahead of Race 1 winner Yann Ehrlacher and Thed Björk. Guerrieri blamed a distraction caused by his anti-lag for his poor start, but the Argentine recovered well to finish eighth. He beat Yvan Muller’s Lynk & Co and Rob Huff’s Zengő Motorsport CUPRA after an entertaining scrap.
Frédéric Vervisch finished P11 in his Comtoyou Team Audi Sport entry ahead of Nathanaël Berthon. Néstor Girolami, who had been due to start third on the grid, climbed from the back to finish in P13, his ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport team having been forced to break parc fermé rules after Race 1 to repair damage to the front end of his car.
Gilles Magnus finished P14 as the top FIA WTCR Junior Driver Title after Luca Engstler was forced to retire because his right-front Goodyear tyre was rubbing against the Hyundai’s bodywork following contact. Jordi Gené scored the final point in P15 for Zengő Motorsport Drivers’ Academy.
RACE WINNER QUOTES
RACE 1: Yann Ehlacher (Cyan Racing Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR)
“It was a good race. It’s really good for the team, thanks to them because we had quite a hard time I would say. We’ve struggled with performance but with the reverse grid we managed to get those points and this result. I would have preferred winning the main race but I will take that. About the race my only opportunity to overtake really was at the start. We nailed the start and then I managed to overtake him on the inside. The safety car didn’t make my life easy, but the restart went well, I had to defend for a few laps because with their top speed it is not easy to fight. But then he got the puncture and then we ended the race like this. There was debris everywhere, there were things to deal with. It was the first time I raced here with the touring cars so with experience there are a few things to improve. But it’s good points and I’m really happy about this team podium.”
RACE 2: Attila Tassi (ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR)
“Yes, it was not so easy to achieve it. First I am really disappointed again that we are not able to stand together on the podium with Tiago as we are speaking about it for so long now. After he had the problem I don’t know how many laps we had, but it felt like it was going on forever. As I had a radio problem I didn’t have any information of the pace or anything, and then I saw the Hyundais were catching up really quick so I was only focusing lap by lap on my exit on to the main straight and the back straight to not give them an opportunity. Each lap I was concentrating 110 per cent and in the end it finally paid off, so I’m very happy. Thank you for ALL-INKL, for amazing work, for Honda. It’s just an amazing weekend.”
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