Aurélien Comte claimed his and Peugeot’s first win in the FIA World Touring Car Cup, securing victory in the reversed-grid race at Zandvoort after getting the jump on pole-sitter James Thompson at the start.
Having achieved a maiden podium for himself and the DG Sport Compétition team in Sunday’s opening race by vaulting from seventh on the grid to second at the start, the young Frenchman made another textbook getaway to outsprint Thompson’s Münnich Motorsport Honda on the long run to Tarzan.
Comte was able to pull away from Thompson in the opening laps until the race was briefly suspended by a Safety Car caused by the retirements of Fabrizio Giovanardi and Aurélien Panis on Lap 5. Panis had slowed with a mechanical drama and was collected by Giovanardi, who speared off the circuit a few corners later when his front splitter failed.
Once the race resumed, Comte bolted away at the green flag but was quickly hauled in by Thompson. The Englishman could not get close enough to mount a serious challenge, and when his teammate Yann Ehrlacher finally found a way past the Campos Racing Cupra of Pepe Oriola to move into third place, Thompson ceded position to Ehrlacher to help the Frenchman’s WTCR title bid.
The extra three points earned helped Ehrlacher move to within a point of championship leader Yvan Muller, his uncle, who finished out of the points.
Runner-up Ehrlacher had started the race from fifth position, beating Mehdi Bennani’s VW Gold GTI into fourth at the start before finding himself bottled up behind Oriola.
For lap after lap, Ehrlacher attacked but could not find a way through the Spaniard’s stern defenses. Oriola’s tyres started to fade in the final laps and Ehrlacher took his chance, bumping the Cupra on the approach to the slow Vodafone left-hander which allowed the Honda driver to nip through.
Thompson secured his first WTCR podium finish, while fourth-placed Oriola held off a train of cars behind him that included Bennani, Gordon Shedden and Esteban Guerrieri who staged their own entertaining scrap for fifth place.
Bennani’s Sébastien Loeb Racing teammate Rob Huff finished in eighth place ahead of Frédéric Vervisch (Comtoyou Audi) and John Filippi in the second Campos Cupra.
Shedden’s teammate Jean-Karl Vernay was demoted to the back of the grid after an engine change and elected to start from the pit lane to avoid any potential incidents ahead of him. He ran for four laps before pulling his undamaged car in to the pit lane to ensure a drama-free preparation for this afternoon’s final race, which he will start from pole position.
The third and final race of the FIA WTCR Zandvoort round takes place over 15 laps at 16:35 local time (GMT +2).
|1.||Aurélien Comte||DG Sport Compétition||14||26:47.210||25|
|2.||Yann Ehrlacher||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||14||+ 4.757||18|
|3.||James Thompson||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||14||+ 5.255||15|
|4.||Pepe Oriola||Team OSCARO by Campos Racing||14||+ 6.657||12|
|5.||Mehdi Bennani||Sébastien Loeb Racing||14||+ 7.120||10|
|6.||Gordon Shedden||Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team||14||+ 7.458||8|
|7.||Esteban Guerrieri||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||14||+ 8.086||6|
|8.||Rob Huff||Sébastien Loeb Racing||14||+ 9.198||4|
|9.||Frédéric Vervisch||Audi Sport Team Comtoyou||14||+ 9.567||2|
|10.||John Filippi||Team OSCARO by Campos Racing||14||+ 9.988||1|
|11.||Denis Dupont||Comtoyou Racing||14||+ 10.557|
|12.||Benjamin Lessennes||Boutsen Ginion Racing||14||+ 10.887|
|13.||Gianni Morbidelli||Mulsanne SRL||14||+ 11.561|
|14.||Tom Coronel||Boutsen Ginion Racing||14||+ 12.855|
|15.||Nathanaël Berthon||Comtoyou Racing||14||+ 13.656|
|16.||Thed Björk||MRacing – YMR||14||+ 17.729|
|17.||Zsolt Dávid Szabó||Zengõ Motorsport||14||+ 13.798|
|18.||Mat’o Homola||DG Sport Compétition||14||+ 16.508|
|19.||Gabriele Tarquini||BRC Racing Team||14||+ 16.961|
|20.||Norbert Nagy||Zengõ Motorsport||14||+ 17.493|
|21.||Bernhard van Oranje||Bas Koeten Racing||14||+ 19.996|
|22.||Michael Verhagen||Bas Koeten Racing||14||+ 23.897|
|23.||Norbert Michelisz||BRC Racing Team||14||+ 25.146|
|24.||Yvan Muller||MRacing – YMR||9||Mechanical|
|DNF.||Aurélien Panis||Comtoyou Racing||4||Mechanical|
|DNF.||Fabrizio Giovanardi||Mulsanne SRL||4||Damage|
|DNF.||Jean-Karl Vernay||Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team||4||Retired|
* Post-Race Penalties:
Images via FIA WTCR Media