Three different winners in the season-opening WTCR event
Esteban Guerrieri (Münnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R TCR), Gabriele Tarquini (BRC Racing Team, Hyundai i30 N TCR) and Thed Björk (Cyan Racing, Lynk & Co 03 TCR) are the winners of three WTCR races at the street circuit in Marrakech, Morocco, in the first round of the 2019 WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup season.
On Saturday, Esteban Guerrieri converted his pole position into his third WTCR victory in a career. The driver of the #86 Honda Civic Type R was in the lead for eighteen laps from start to finish, winning the race ahead of fellow front row starter Thed Björk in the #11 Lynk & Co 03 TCR. There was one more Argentinean on the podium after Nestor Girolami finished third in another Münnich Motorsport’s Honda.
Girolami inherited third place from Jean-Karl Vernay, who received a five-second penalty for a collision with Andy Priaulx. That penalty demoted Vernay to the seventh place, behind Gabriele Tarquini (4th), Andy Priaulx (5th) and Tiago Monteiro (6th).
In the second race, Nick Catsburg started from pole on the reversed grid in the #88 Hyundai. Unfortunately, his race ended with a crash on lap 10 when he went straight on under braking and nosed hard into a barrier with suspected brake failure. The Safety Car was deployed after the accident.
At the restart, Catsburg’s teammate and defending champion Gabriele Tarquini took the lead and stayed in front until the end. The drivers of five brands finished in the top five places, with Audi’s Jean-Karl Vernay and Lynk & Co’s Yann Ehrlacher on the podium. Esteban Guerrieri (Honda) and Mikel Azcona (Cupra) completed the top 5.
In the third race, one more driver dropped from the race while in the lead. Yvan Muller was leading the race for fourteen laps in the #111 Lynk & Co car but steering issue prevented him to finish the race. His teammate Thed Bjork inherited a lead and stayed in front until the race was interrupted following Vernay’s stoppage. Crossing the finish line behind the Safety car, Bjork recorded his fifth WTCR victory and the first for Chinese brand Lynk & Co.
Frederic Vervisch, who started the race from pole position in the #22 Audi RS3 LMS of Comtoyou Racing, finished the race in the second place. PWR Racing’s Mikel Azcona climbed to the third podium spot.
Thed Björk is the championship leader after three races with 61 points on his account, five more than Esteban Guerrieri. Gabriele Tarquini is third with 49 points collected. Twenty-two drivers, of 26 that raced at Marrakech, collected some points. Among the teams, Münnich Motorsport leads with 90 points, twelve more than Cyan Racing Lynk & Co.
The next WTCR round is scheduled for April 27-28 at Hungaroring.