Esteban Guerrieri became the FIA World Touring Car Cup’s sixth different race winner in the season’s opening eight races by claiming victory in the second of this weekend’s three races at the Nürburgring Nordschleife.
The race was marred by a heavy high-speed accident for championship leader Gabriele Tarquini, whose BRC Racing Hyundai was pitched into the barriers by WRT’s Gordon Shedden.
Guerrieri’s win – the second for the Münnich Motorsport team – was his first since winning the final race of the FIA World Touring Car Championship era in Qatar last year.
After seeing his opening race prospects hurt by being hit in the Turn 1/2 complex, Guerrieri avoided the traditional carnage after the start by vaulting into second place ahead of DTM champion René Rast at the start of the reversed grid race.
Within two corners the Argentine was in the lead, having overtaken the Campos Racing Cupra of Pepe Oriola.
Rast didn’t even make it beyond the first tour of the Nürburgring’s Grand Prix layout. The German was forced wide at Turn 3 by Rob Huff and spun across the track before sliding nose-first into the barriers at Ford Kurve. Huff would also retire as a result of the contact in an attempt to have his Sébastien Loeb Racing mechanics repair his VW Golf GTI in time for the day’s final race.
Guerrieri scampered off into an early lead through the Nordschleife’s twists and turns, but found himself reeled in by the chasing pack down the long Dottinger Hohe straight at the end of the first and second laps.
Heading the rest of the field, Oriola belied the perceived handicap of his Cupra León and successfully fended off attacks from behind. In his most impressive showing of the season to-date, he crossed the finish line just 1.1 seconds behind Guerrieri.
Comtoyou Audi driver Frédéric Vervisch finished a superb third, taking full advantage of the weight advantage his RS3 LMS enjoyed to pass his rivals down Dottinger Hohe during the three-lap race. His battle with Thursday race-winner Yvan Muller proved an exciting affair, passing and re-passing the French veteran’s Hyundai during the race.
Muller finished fourth ahead of fellow Hyundai i30 runner Norbert Michelisz, who overtook Yann Ehrlacher’s Münnich Motorsport Honda on Dottinger Hohe.
Seventh and eighth places went to the two surviving WRT Audis of Jean-Karl Vernay and Gordon Shedden, however the latter was later hit with a 30-second post race time penalty for taking championship leader Gabriele Tarquini out of the race on the opening lap.
The Scot started from 15th and worked his way up to ninth before the field exited the Grand Prix loop. Chasing Tarquini – who had gained a similar number of places from 14th on the grid – Shedden appeared to clip the Italian as he tried to pass his Hyundai through the Nordschleife’s uphill sweeps.
The hip-and-shoulder move resulted in Tarquini collecting the barriers for the second time this weekend. His Hyundai sustained heavy damage, with its left-rear wheel torn from the car.
With Muller drawing level on points at the top of the championship standings and Tarquini almost certain not to be able to start the third and final race, the incident could have major ramifications on the championship race.
|2018 FIA World Touring Car Cup Race of Germany – Race 2 Final Classification (3 laps)|
|1.||Esteban Guerrieri||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||3||27:11.856||25|
|2.||Pepe Oriola||Team OSCARO by Campos Racing||3||+ 1.148||18|
|3.||Frédéric Vervisch||Audi Sport Team Comtoyou||3||+ 2.988||15|
|4.||Yvan Muller||MRacing – YMR||3||+ 3.787||12|
|5.||Norbert Michelisz||BRC Racing Team||3||+ 4.088||10|
|6.||Yann Ehrlacher||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||3||+ 4.573||8|
|7.||Jean-Karl Vernay||Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team||3||+ 6.148||6|
|8.||Nathanaël Berthon||Comtoyou Racing||3||+ 15.824||4|
|9.||Tom Coronel||Boutsen Ginion Racing||3||+ 16.224||2|
|10.||Mehdi Bennani||Sébastien Loeb Racing||3||+ 17.595||1|
|11.||Denis Dupont||Comtoyou Racing||3||+ 18.026|
|12.||Aurélien Panis||Comtoyou Racing||3||+ 21.045|
|13.||Aurélien Comte||DG Sport Compétition||3||+ 23.588|
|14.||Mat’o Homola||DG Sport Compétition||3||+ 24.094|
|15.||Gianni Morbidelli||Mulsanne SRL||3||+ 27.092|
|16.||Kris Richard||KCMG||3||+ 39.123|
|17.||Norbert Nagy||Zengõ Motorsport||3||+ 40.422|
|18.||Gordon Shedden||Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team||3||+ 44.954|
|DNF.||John Filippi||Team OSCARO by Campos Racing||2||Mechanical|
|DNF.||Thed Björk||MRacing – YMR||1||Steering|
|DNF.||Fabrizio Giovanardi||Mulsanne SRL||1||Damage|
|DNF.||Benjamin Lessennes||Boutsen Ginion Racing||1||Damage|
|DNF.||Gabriele Tarquini||BRC Racing Team||0||Accident|
|DNF.||Rob Huff||Sébastien Loeb Racing||0||Damage|
|DNF.||René Rast||Audi Sport Team WRT||0||Collision|
|DNF.||Zsolt Dávid Szabó||Zengõ Motorsport||0||Puncture|
|DSQ.||James Thompson||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport|
* Post-Race Penalties:
- Gordon Shedden – who was provisionally classified 8th – was awarded a 30-second post-race time penalty for colliding with Gabriele Tarquini.
- James Thompson – who was provisionally classified 19th – was disqualified when his team breached parc ferme conditions.
Images via FIA WTCR Media