WTCR: Three different winners in three races at Nordschleife
Norbert Michelisz (BRC Racing, Hyundai i30 N TCR), Johan Kristoffersson and Benjamin Leuchter (both Sebastien Loeb Racing, Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR) are the winners of three WTCR races at the Nürburgring Nordschleife, in the fifth round of the 2019 WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup season.
For Michelisz, it’s his first win this season and second WTCR victory in a career. On the other side, both Kristoffersson and Leuchter scored their maiden WTCR wins in two Sunday’s races at the legendary Nordschleife.
The Argentinean Esteban Guerrieri (ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R TCR) grabbed two podiums this weekend at Nürburgring, finishing second in Race 1 and third in Race 3, defending the lead in the championship. After five rounds and fifteen races, Guerrieri collects 214 points, 45 more than second-placed Norbert Michelisz.
Each of three races featured three laps at the 25.378-kilometre combination of the Nordschleife and Grand Prix Circuit. In the first race, on Friday, Norbert Michelisz stole the lead from pole-sitter Esteban Guerrieri at the first turn and maintained his advantage until the end.
Behind their back, there was a fantastic battle for the third podium spot. In the end, Guerrieri’s teammate Nestor Girolami gave a double podium to ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport. Initially passed by Frederic Vervisch (Comtoyou Audi) on the opening lap, Girolami attacked Vervisch at the two-kilometre Döttinger Höhe straight. When they were fighting for position, both were surprised by Rob Huff (SLR Volkswagen), who slipstreamed both of them to take third.
Girolami managed to pass Vervisch and then, in the next run on the Döttinger Höhe, he went door to door against Huff to take the final podium spot. Vervisch ended the race in P5, in front of Yann Erlacher (Cyan Performance Lynk &Co), Benjamin Leuchter (SLR Volkswagen), Augusto Farfus, Nicky Catsburg (both BRC Hyundai) and Johan Kristofferson.
In the second race, on Sunday morning, Johan Kristoffersson scored his first victory in the WTCR after starting from the reverse grid pole. He shared a podium with Frederic Vervisch and Augusto Farfus.
From fifth and eighth on the grid respectively, veterans Gabriele Tarquini and Rob Huff established themselves in third and fourth, but their battle ended controversially with the crash on lap 3. The incident allowed Augusto Farfus to finish third while Tarquini recovered and finished fourth. KCMG’s Attila Tassi was fifth in his Honda, ahead of Benny Leuchter, Esteban Guerrieri, Norbert Michelisz, Aurélien Panis (Cupra Racing) and Jean-Karl Vernay (Leopard Racing Audi).
In the third race, on Sunday afternoon, another Volkswagen driver converted pole position into his maiden WTCR victory. German driver Benjamin Leuchter claimed his first win after leading almost all the way during the three-lap race. Frederic Vervisch rounded his great weekend with one more podium, finishing the race in the second place after he started from P7 on the grid. The championship leader Esteban Guerrieri completed the podium.
Guerrieri briefly took the lead in Turn 1 of the opening lap but Leuchter retook the lead on Turn 2. At the end of lap one, Guerrieri attacked Leuchter, there was a contact also, but the German defended his position. Soon after that, Vervisch passed Guerrieri on the start/finish straight. In the end, Guerrieri was satisfied with the third place because his main title rivals Norbert Michelisz and Thed Björk both failed to finish.
Jean-Karl Vernay had a great race, progressing from P15 on the grid to P4 at the finish line. Gabriele Tarquini finished fifth, ahead of Tom Coronel (Cupra Racing). Aurélien Panis, Nicky Catsburg, Gordon Shedden and Yvan Muller completed the top 10.
The next round of the WTCR season would be the Race of Portugal at Circuito Internacional de Vila Real, scheduled for July 6-7.