Last-lap punctures for championship leader Tiago Monteiro and Néstor Girolami have propelled the latter’s Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo teammate Thed Björk into second place in the FIA WTCC Drivers’ Championship standings after the Swede claimed victory in Sunday’s Opening Race at the Nürburgring Nordschleife.

With the first race of the day seeing the fastest ten qualifiers’ grid positions reversed, Björk made a rapid getaway from sixth to claim third at the pack funneled its way through the opening complex of corners.

Girolami had managed to convert his pole position into the lead ahead of the Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën of Mehdi Bennani.

The pack ran with their positions unchanged until the two-mile Döttinger Höhe straight on the opening lap, whereupon Björk passed Bennani’s Citroën to claim second, while further behind Bennani’s teammate Tom Chilton passed Esteban Guerrieri’s Campos Racing Chevrolet for fourth and Rob Huff took his Münnich Motorsport Citroën ahead of Tiago Monteiro’s Honda to grab sixth.

Björk was clearly showing superior pace to teammate Girolami, and on the next lap he’d closed down the Argentine driver to ease into the lead at Döttinger Höhe. Huff did likewise to Guerrieri to move into fifth, with the top six runners doing well to avoid collecting a slow-moving ETCC class Honda Civic of Christjohannes Schreiber.

Ominously, Schreiber was limping back to the pits with a puncture. It was to be a portent of things to come as the action heated up on the final lap of the race.

As the field exited the Grand Prix loop, disaster struck Monteiro. For the second year running, the championship leader found himself eliminated from contention with a puncture.

As the Portuguese driver tried to limp back to the pits to ensure he could make the start for the Main Race and limit any further damage to his title lead, Girolami followed suit and slowed with his own tyre failure.

That propelled Bennani into second ahead of Chilton, who had Huff breathing down his neck for the final podium position.

Monteiro’s teammate and Main Race pole-sitter Norbert Michelisz immediately backed off to ensure he would not befall the same fate, handing sixth place to Nicky Catsburg’s Volvo.

Björk went on to claim victory by 2.5 seconds over Bennani, while Huff succeeded in passing Chilton for third place at the Döttinger Höhe straight.

Björk’s victory and Monteiro’s non-score meant he closed to within 22 points of the championship lead, while Catsburg lies third and a further five points back.

2017 FIA WTCC Race of Germany – Opening Race Final Classification (3 laps)
Driver Team Result Cat
1. Thed Björk Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo S60 TC1 volvo 26:24.961 MF
2. Mehdi Bennani Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée + 2.538 IND
3. Rob Huff Münnich Motorsport Citroën C-Elysée + 3.096 IND
4. Tom Chilton Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée + 3.732 IND
5. Esteban Guerrieri Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze + 8.487 IND
6. Nick Catsburg Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo S60 TC1 volvo + 8.910 MF
7. Norbert Michelisz Castrol Honda WTCC Team Civic WTCC + 16.946 MF
8. Tom Coronel ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze + 16.796 IND
9. Yann Ehrlacher RC Motorsport LADA Vesta WTCC + 19.481 IND
10. John Filippi Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée + 22.889 IND
11. Ryo Michigami Honda Racing Team JAS Civic WTCC + 23.380 MF
12. Kevin Gleason RC Motorsport LADA Vesta WTCC + 24.118 IND
13. Aurélien Panis Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC + 34.158 IND
14. Dániel Nagy Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC + 35.457 IND
Not Classified Team Result Cat
DNF. Tiago Monteiro Castrol Honda WTCC Team Civic WTCC Puncture MF
DNF. Néstor Girolami Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo S60 TC1 volvo Puncture MF

Images via FIA WTCC Media

The following two tabs change content below.

Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.