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.

2018 FIA WTCR Race of Hungary - Start Action

Ehrlacher was the chief beneficiary of the opening-lap contact triggered by teammate Guerrieri.

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)
Driver Team Laps Result Pts
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 it 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 be Audi Sport Team Comtoyou 12 + 25.801
14. Benjamin Lessennes* be Boutsen Ginion Racing 12 + 26.901
15. Aurélien Panis Comtoyou Racing 12 + 27.850
16. Pepe Oriola es 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* be Comtoyou Racing 12 + 46.738
23. Fabrizio Giovanardi it Mulsanne SRL 9 + 3 laps
Not Classified Team Laps Result
DNF. John Filippi Team OSCARO by Campos Racing 6 Damage
DNF. Gianni Morbidelli it 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

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.