Yann Ehrlacher took advantage of opening-lap contact between his teammate Esteban Guerrieri and pole-sitter Norbert Michelisz on the opening lap to claim victory in the first race of the FIA WTCR round at the Hungaroring.
Starting from the front row of the grid alongside Race 1 pole-sitter Michelisz, Guerrieri made the better getaway and launched his Münnich Motorsport Honda into the lead by the first corner.
Michelisz attempted to counter-attack on the downhill run to Turn 2, drawing alongside Guerrieri while BRC Racing teammate Gabriele Tarquini – having made one of his customary fast starts – also tried to challenge for the lead.
Three-wide into Turn 2 has historically had little chances of success, with a hip-and-shoulder move by Guerrieri on the inside pitching Michelisz into Tarquini’s path. All three drivers ran wide of the apex, allowing Ehrlacher to opportunistically nip through and claim the lead.
Guerrieri slotted into second place, while Yvan Muller was another beneficiary and secured third place in his Hyundai ahead of Michelisz, Rob Huff and Tarquini.
As Ehrlacher and Guerrieri set about building an early lead, it was quickly apparent that Muller didn’t have the pace of the frontrunners. The Frenchman staged an exciting scrap with Michelisz that ran for lap after lap, with the Hungarian trying every trick in his arsenal to get ahead.
Eventually Michelisz was able to get a better exit from the final corner and as they crossed the start/finish line to start the penultimate lap of the race, he drew alongside and was able to outbreak Muller into Turn 1 to claim third place.
As Ehrlacher claimed his first race WTCR race win with Guerrieri right in his wheeltracks, Michelisz delighted the parochial crowd with his podium on home soil. Muller finished fourth ahead of the Sébastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI of Huff, who struggled with a soft brake pedal and did well to keep Tarquini and local wildcard Dániel Nagy behind him.
Jean-Karl Vernay finished eighth in his WRT Audi, man-handling an RS3 LMS that has been less than competitive to-date this weekend. The reigning TCR International Series champion overtook the reigning WTCC champion Thed Björk on the fourth lap with a neat move at Turn 2.
Benjamin Lessennes completed the top ten in his Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda. The Belgian was, however, later hit with a 10-second time penalty for earning the position by punting James Thompson’s Münnich Motorsport Honda into a half-spin at Turn 1.
Tenth and the final championship point went to Mehdi Bennani in the second SLR Volkswagen.
Races 2 and 3 take place on Sunday, with qualifying for both races scheduled to begin at 10:00 CET (GMT +2).
|2018 FIA World Touring Car Cup Race of Hungary – Race 1 Final Classification (12 laps)|
|1.||Yann Ehrlacher||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||12||23:08.602||25|
|2.||Esteban Guerrieri||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||12||+ 0.692||18|
|3.||Norbert Michelisz||BRC Racing Team||12||+ 5.942||15|
|4.||Yvan Muller||MRacing – YMR||12||+ 7.290||12|
|5.||Rob Huff||Sébastien Loeb Racing||12||+ 9.117||10|
|6.||Gabriele Tarquini||BRC Racing Team||12||+ 9.856||8|
|7.||Dániel Nagy||M1RA||12||+ 11.096||6|
|8.||Jean-Karl Vernay||Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team||12||+ 15.403||4|
|9.||Thed Björk||MRacing – YMR||12||+ 16.202||2|
|10.||Mehdi Bennani||Sébastien Loeb Racing||12||+ 21.537||1|
|11.||Nathanaël Berthon||Comtoyou Racing||12||+ 22.455|
|12.||James Thompson||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||12||+ 25.448|
|13.||Frédéric Vervisch||Audi Sport Team Comtoyou||12||+ 25.801|
|14.||Benjamin Lessennes*||Boutsen Ginion Racing||12||+ 26.901|
|15.||Aurélien Panis||Comtoyou Racing||12||+ 27.850|
|16.||Pepe Oriola||Team OSCARO by Campos Racing||12||+ 32.592|
|17.||Aurélien Comte||DG Sport Compétition||12||+ 33.231|
|18.||Gordon Shedden||Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team||12||+ 33.978|
|19.||Attila Tassi||KCMG||12||+ 34.344|
|20.||Mat’o Homola||DG Sport Compétition||12||+ 34.671|
|21.||Zsolt Dávid Szabó||Zengõ Motorsport||12||+ 46.586|
|22.||Denis Dupont*||Comtoyou Racing||12||+ 46.738|
|23.||Fabrizio Giovanardi||Mulsanne SRL||9||+ 3 laps|
|DNF.||John Filippi||Team OSCARO by Campos Racing||6||Damage|
|DNF.||Gianni Morbidelli||Mulsanne SRL||5||Mechanical|
|DNF.||Tom Coronel||Boutsen Ginion Racing||2||Steering|
|DNF.||Norbert Nagy||Zengõ Motorsport||1||Mechanical|
* Post-Race Penalties:
- Benjamin Lessennes – who provisionally finished 10th – was handed a 10-second time penalty for causing a collision with James Thompson.
- Denis Dupont – who provisionally finished 21st – was handed a 10-second time penalty for repeated track limits violations.
Image via FIA WTCR Media