Thed Björk has finally broken through to claim his first FIA WTCR race win. Having had three pole positions to-date, the YMR Hyundai driver converted his grid advantage into the lead and victory in a race hit by drama and incidents aplenty.
Björk held the lead at the start of the race, chopping across to cover off a challenge by Comtoyou Racing’s Frédéric Vervisch on the run to the Turn 1/2 chicane. Further behind, Björk’s teammate Yvan Muller shoved his way by the sole BRC Racing Hyundai of Norbert Michelisz, pushing the Hungarian down to sixth place.
Another driver on a charge was Race 2 winner Esteban Guerrieri. Having disposed of the Boutsen Ginion Honda of Benjamin Lessennes, the Argentine zeroed in on Michelisz and dived up his right-hand side under braking at Aremberg.
The move was never on given Michelisz was already turning to the apex of the corner, with the resulting contact costing Michelisz even more places. Guerrieri was quickly handed a 10-second penalty, much to his protests over the radio.
Up front, Björk continued to keep a lead from Vervisch’s Audi, but it was clear that the Belgian’s lighter RS3 LMS was going to be a major threat for the remainder of the race.
After trying and failing to pass Björk down the last straight at Döttinger Hohe, Vervisch tucked in behind Björk on the start/finish straight and launched his attack into the Turn 1/2 complex on the final lap.
The pair ran side-by-side down to Turn 3, with Björk narrowly prevailing to keep his lead.
Behind them, Yann Ehrlacher retired his Münnich Motorsport Honda from fourth place, promoting Rob Huff. The Brit was immediately in trouble however, reporting a loss of power in his Sébastien Loeb Racing VW Golf GTI.
He was quickly passed by Guerrieri – desperate to negate his time penalty – and then Benjamin Lessennes’ Honda and the Audi of Jean-Karl Vernay swept through as well.
Trying to limp his car home, Huff was then collected by Michelisz. Both were immediate retirements and were somehow avoided by the chasing pack.
Up front, Björk held on to win by just under one second from Vervisch, with Muller finishing third to claim an unexpected lead in the Drivers’ Championship standings. The Frenchman now sits 19 points clear of Gabriele Tarquini, who was unable to start the race due to heavy damage sustained in his Race 2 accident.
|2018 FIA World Touring Car Cup Race of Germany – Race 3 Final Classification (3 laps)|
|1.||Thed Björk||MRacing – YMR||3||26:59.737||30|
|2.||Frédéric Vervisch||Audi Sport Team Comtoyou||3||+ 0.793||23|
|3.||Yvan Muller||MRacing – YMR||3||+ 8.947||19|
|4.||Benjamin Lessennes||Boutsen Ginion Racing||3||+ 13.088||16|
|5.||Nathanaël Berthon||Comtoyou Racing||3||+ 15.900||13|
|6.||Pepe Oriola||Team OSCARO by Campos Racing||3||+ 18.077||10|
|7.||Jean-Karl Vernay||Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team||3||+ 18.858||7|
|8.||Esteban Guerrieri*||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||3||+ 20.472||4|
|9.||Mehdi Bennani*||Sébastien Loeb Racing||3||+ 24.548||2|
|10.||Tom Coronel||Boutsen Ginion Racing||3||+ 24.614||1|
|11.||Aurélien Panis||Comtoyou Racing||3||+ 25.054|
|12.||Denis Dupont||Comtoyou Racing||3||+ 30.123|
|13.||Gordon Shedden||Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team||3||+ 30.584|
|14.||Fabrizio Giovanardi||Mulsanne SRL||3||+ 31.004|
|15.||Aurélien Comte||DG Sport Compétition||3||+ 33.476|
|16.||Mat’o Homola*||DG Sport Compétition||3||+ 33.639|
|17.||Norbert Nagy||Zengõ Motorsport||3||+ 36.231|
|18.||Kris Richard||KCMG||3||+ 36.453|
|19.||James Thompson*||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||3||+ 1:13.162|
|20.||John Filippi||Team OSCARO by Campos Racing||3||+ 1:14.658|
|DNF.||Yann Ehrlacher||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||2||Mechanical|
|DNF.||Rob Huff||Sébastien Loeb Racing||2||Collision|
|DNF.||Norbert Michelisz*||BRC Racing Team||2||Collision|
|DNF.||Gianni Morbidelli||Mulsanne SRL||2||Damage|
|DNS.||Gabriele Tarquini||BRC Racing Team|
|DNS.||René Rast||Audi Sport Team WRT|
|DNS.||Zsolt Dávid Szabó||Zengõ Motorsport|
* Post-Race Penalties:
- Esteban Guerrieri – who was provisionally classified 4th – was awarded a 10-second post-race time penalty for colliding with Norbert Michelisz.
- Mehdi Bennani – who was provisionally classified 9th – was awarded a 5-second post-race time penalty for avoidable contact with Gordon Shedden.
- Mat’o Homola – who was provisionally classified 12th – was awarded a 5-second post-race time penalty for avoidable contact with Gordon Shedden.
- James Thompson – who was provisionally classified 16th – was awarded a 40-second post-race time penalty when his team breached parc ferme conditions between Races 2 and 3.
- Norbert Michelisz – who did not finish the race – was awarded a five-place grid penalty for the first Race of Netherlands round for colliding with Rob Huff.
Images via FIA WTCR Media