WTCR - Vila Real: Victories for Michelisz, Azcona, Monteiro
Norbert Michelisz (BRC Racing, Hyundai i30 N), Mikel Azcona (PWR Racing, Cupra) and Tiago Monteiro (KCMG, Honda Civic Type R) are the winners of three races in the sixth round of the 2019 WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup that took place at the 4.785km Circuito Internacional de Vila Real in Portugal.
Both Azcona and Monteiro scored their maiden WTCR wins while Michelisz climbed to the top podium spot for the second time this year, retaining second place in the championship after 18 races. The championship leader is still Esteban Guerrieri (ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R).
On Saturday, Norbert Michelisz started the race from pole position in the #5 Hyundai i30 N and led for the entire race to claim his second win of the season and the third WTCR victory in a career. Behind his back, Yann Ehrlacher (Cyan Lynk & Co) managed to overtake Augusto Farfus (BRC Hyundai) on lap 4 through the joker lap, a feature unique to Vila Real’s circuit.
Rob Huff (Sebastien Loeb Racing, Volkswagen Golf) finished the race in the fourth place, in front of Nicky Catsburg in another BRC Hyundai. Championship leader Esteban Guerrieri started 16th on the grid after a sensor problem in qualifying, then endured a misfire in the race and was classified as 24th, allowing Michelisz to close the gap to 15 points from 45.
On Sunday’s Race 2, Mikel Azcona played a brilliant ‘joker’ lap strategy to claim his first WTCR victory. He started third on the reversed grid in the #96 Cupra TCR but used the joker to pass both Esteban Guerrieri and pole-sitter Ma Qing Hua (Team Mulsanne, Alfa Romeo Giulietta). Azcona’s victory is also PWR’s first triumph in WTCR and first win for Cupra this season.
The Chinese driver finished second ahead of Guerrieri, who extended his championship lead ahead of Michelisz, who failed to finish the race after incurring damage following contact with Kevin Ceccon’s Alfa Romeo.
In Race 3, the Portuguese hero Tiago Monteiro claimed home victory in the #18 KCMG Honda Civic Type R and became the eleventh different winner in eighteen races this season.
KCMG team-mate Attila Tassi started the race from pole position, with Monteiro following him in P2. Behind two Honda drivers, there was another touring car veteran Yvan Muller. Tassi lost his lead on lap four when he began to slow, the 20-year-old eventually pulling in to retire. Monteiro managed to defend his lead ahead of Muller while Muller’s nephew Yann Ehrlacher secured a double podium for Cyan Lynk & Co.
Championship leader Esteban Guerrieri was forced to retire after a first-lap collision with BRC Hyundai driver Nicky Catsburg. Guerrieri’s closest rival Norbert Michelisz finished tenth, closing a gap behind Argentinean to 25 points (231:206).