Defending series champion Gabriele Tarquini has claimed victory in the second race of the FIA World Touring Car Cup round at Morocco, but only after his BRC Racing Team Hyundai teammate Nicky Catsburg crashed out of the lead.
Catsburg had started the reversed-grid race from pole and held off Tarquini at the start to hold a seemingly comfortable lead of the race. Tarquini slotted into second place ahead of the WRT Audi of Jean-Karl Vernay, with Yann Ehrlacher vaulting his Cyan Performance Lynk & Co up to fourth place ahead of Saturday race-winner Esteban Guerrieri in the Münnich Motorsport Honda.
Further around the opening lap, the second WRT Audi of Gordon Shedden punted Tom Coronel’s Comtoyou Racing Cupra into a half-spin at Turn 8, although both continued without major damage. In the background to this, Sébastien Loeb Racing teammates Mehdi Bennani and Rob Huff – not for the first time in their partnership – collided, with the former spending a lengthy stint in the pits while his VW Golf GTI was repaired.
The race and running order settled down from there on, with the remaining runners being ultra-cautious to keep climbing component temperatures under control and ensure their cars stayed in one piece given there was little time between the end of this race and the start of Race 3.
That was until Catsburg – the one driver whose car was not breathing in the hot exhaust gases from a car in front of him – slid nose-first into the Turn 10 barriers after a sudden brake failure. The Dutch driver was thankfully unhurt, but the same could not be said of his Hyundai i30 N TCR which is too badly damaged to be repaired in time for Race 3.
That handed the effective race lead to teammate Tarquini while the race was neutralised for four laps behind the Safety Car so Catsburg’s car could be retrieved to safety. During this time, the Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo of Ma Qing Hua was forced into the pits, with the Chinese driver suffering his second puncture of the weekend.
Tarquini’s path to victory was assured thanks to a massive jump at the restart, completely catching Vernay off-guard to bolt off into the distance and an eventual three-second margin of victory.
No overtaking moves were attempted among the top-fifteen points-scorers, with Vernay finishing in second place ahead of Ehrlacher.
Guerrieri finished fourth to consolidate a five-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship standings to Tarquini, ahead of rookie driver Mikel Azcona who looked particularly racy en route to an impressive fifth place in his PWR Cupra.
Cyan Racing teammates Thed Björk and Yvan Muller finished sixth and seventh respectively, ahead of KCMG Honda’s Tiago Monteiro and Race pole-winner Frédéric Vervisch’s Comtoyou Audi.
The third and final race of the weekend takes place at 18:15 WEST (GMT +1).
|2019 FIA WTCR Race of Morocco – Race 2 Final Classification (20 laps)|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result||Pts|
|1.||Gabriele Tarquini||BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse||20||31:45.772||25|
|2.||Jean-Karl Vernay||Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport||20||+ 3.317||20|
|3.||Yann Ehrlacher||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||20||+ 3.991||16|
|4.||Esteban Guerrieri||Münnich Motorsport||20||+ 4.514||13|
|5.||Mikel Azcona||PWR Racing||20||+ 4.669||11|
|6.||Thed Björk||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||20||+ 7.064||10|
|7.||Yvan Muller||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||20||+ 8.197||9|
|8.||Tiago Monteiro||KCMG||20||+ 8.496||8|
|9.||Frédéric Vervisch||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||20||+ 8.895||7|
|10.||Néstor Girolami||Münnich Motorsport||20||+ 9.439||6|
|11.||Augusto Farfus||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team||20||+ 9.870||5|
|12.||Norbert Michelisz||BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse||20||+ 11.109||4|
|13.||Andy Priaulx||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||20||+ 12.081||3|
|14.||Tom Coronel||Comtoyou Team DHL Cupra Racing||20||+ 12.703||2|
|15.||Gordon Shedden||Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport||20||+ 13.109||1|
|16.||Daniel Haglöf||PWR Racing||20||+ 13.659|
|17.||Johan Kristoffersson||SLR Volkswagen||20||+ 14.126|
|18.||Niels Langeveld||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||20||+ 14.831|
|19.||Kevin Ceccon||Team Mulsanne||20||+ 15.184|
|20.||Attila Tassi||KCMG||20||+ 16.358|
|21.||Aurélien Panis||Comtoyou Team DHL Cupra Racing||20||+ 16.796|
|22.||Rob Huff||SLR VW Motorsport||20||+ 17.440|
|23.||Benjamin Leuchter||SLR Volkswagen||20||+ 18.209|
|Not Classified||Team / Entry||Laps||Reason|
|DNF.||Ma Qing Hua||Team Mulsanne||13||Puncture|
|DNF.||Mehdi Bennani||SLR VW Motorsport||11||+ 9 laps|
|DNF.||Nicky Catsburg||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team||9||Brakes|
- The top fifteen classified finishers and their respective teams are awarded championship points on a 25-20-16-13-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 sliding scale.
- Mehdi Bennani – who was not classified as a finisher – was awarded a reprimand by the FIA Stewards for causing a collision with Rob Huff.
Images via FIA WTCR Media