Néstor Girolami secured back-to-back victories in a frenetic rain-affected second FIA World Touring Car Cup race at the Hungaroring to join Münnich Motorsport Honda teammate Esteban Guerrieri at the top of the Drivers’ Championship standings.
With the track dampened by earlier rain but slowly drying, the field faced a tough tyre choice ahead of the start of the race. The frontrunners opted for dry-weather Yokohama tyres, while several towards the back of the grid gambled on wets.
The Argentine driver, who had won Saturday’s race from pole position in a lights-to-flag display, once again dominated proceedings after muscling his way into the race lead before the end of the opening lap.
With the fastest ten qualifiers’ grid positions reversed for this race, PWR Racing owner/driver Daniel Haglöf got the jump on the pole-sitting WRT Audi of Jean-Karl Vernay at the start and held the inside line into Turn 1, with Cyan Racing’s Thed Björk slotting his Lynk & Co into second place.
The Swedish 1-2 lasted for all of three corners as Girolami, who had started from sixth on the grid, forced his way past Björk at Turn 4 before setting off after Haglöf.
By Turn 12 he was in the lead and never looked back, leaving Haglöf to briefly defend second place from the recovering Vernay. The Frenchman claimed the spot from Haglöf’s Cupra at Turn 1 on the next lap.
The opening laps saw a multitude of incidents take place through the field, with SLR Volkswagen duo Johan Kristoffersson and Mehdi Bennani both early retirees due to contact, along with Tiago Monteiro (KCMG Honda) and Björk.
Once in the lead, Girolami steadily eased away before being reeled in by Vernay in the closing laps. Vernay pulled the gap to Girolami to within a second, before backing off on the final lap to secure second place. Haglöf rounded out the podium positions to claim his first rostrum finish of his WTCR career, with teammate Mikel Azcona claiming fourth place in his battle-scarred Cupra.
While neither Cupra driver had a particularly quick car during their race, their cause was helped by Augusto Farfus, who doggedly defended fifth place in an evil-handling BRC Racing Hyundai.
Heading the pack of chasing cars was the Cyan Performance Lynk & Co of Yann Ehrlacher, who was being hotly pursued by the BRC Racing Hyundais of Nicky Catsburg and Gabriele Tarquini.
On Lap 7, Catsburg made his move and dived up the inside of Ehrlacher into Turn 1. Tarquini tried to follow suit, but only succeeded in T-boning a furious Ehrlacher who was forced to retire for the second race in a row. With teammate Andy Priaulx also in the pit lane with broken steering, it was proving to be a bad race for the Lynk & Co brand.
A mistake from Catsburg at Turn 12 allowed Yvan Muller in the sole remaining Lynk & Co to snatch sixth, with the French veteran having picked his way through the midfield from fifteenth on the grid. Guerrieri and a battle-scarred Tarquini followed Muller through.
Muller briefly got ahead of the struggling Farfus to claim fifth place, but he was then passed by Guerrieri at Turn 2 to settle fifth and sixth places.
Seventh place went to SLR VW’s Rob Huff, who benefited from his rivals’ poor driving to claim his best finish of the season to-date. He finished ahead of Attila Tassi (KCMG Honda), who brought some cheer to the local fans after the late race retirement of Norbert Michelisz’s Hyundai who was hit by Aurélien Panis’ Comtoyou Cupra.
On fading tyres, Farfus held on to finish ninth ahead of Catsburg.
|2019 FIA WTCR Race of Hungary – Race 2 Final Classification (12 laps)|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result||Pts|
|1.||Néstor Girolami||Münnich Motorsport||12||23:46.542||25|
|2.||Jean-Karl Vernay||Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport||12||+ 2.529||20|
|3.||Daniel Haglöf||PWR Racing||12||+ 3.507||16|
|4.||Mikel Azcona||PWR Racing||12||+ 5.260||13|
|5.||Esteban Guerrieri||Münnich Motorsport||12||+ 12.822||11|
|6.||Yvan Muller||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||12||+ 14.721||10|
|7.||Rob Huff||SLR VW Motorsport||12||+ 15.245||9|
|8.||Attila Tassi||KCMG||12||+ 15.766||8|
|9.||Augusto Farfus||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team||12||+ 18.979||7|
|10.||Nicky Catsburg||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team||12||+ 19.522||6|
|11.||Ma Qing Hua||Team Mulsanne||12||+ 19.751||5|
|12.||Benjamin Leuchter||SLR Volkswagen||12||+ 20.676||4|
|13.||Aurélien Panis||Comtoyou Team DHL Cupra Racing||12||+ 21.739||3|
|14.||Tom Coronel||Comtoyou Team DHL Cupra Racing||12||+ 24.699||2|
|15.||Frédéric Vervisch||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||12||+ 25.086||1|
|16.||Kevin Ceccon||Team Mulsanne||12||+ 36.000|
|17.||Gabriele Tarquini||BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse||11||+ 1 lap|
|18.||Tamás Tenke (WC)||Zengő Motorsport||9||+ 3 laps|
|Not Classified||Team / Entry||Laps||Reason|
|DNF.||Gordon Shedden||Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport||11||Spin|
|DNF.||Niels Langeveld||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||11||Collision|
|DNF.||Norbert Michelisz||BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse||10||Collision|
|DNF.||Yann Ehrlacher||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||8||Collision|
|DNF.||Andy Priaulx||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||5||Steering|
|DNF.||Thed Björk||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||4||Collision|
|DNF.||Mehdi Bennani||SLR VW Motorsport||3||Wheel|
|DNF.||Johan Kristoffersson||SLR Volkswagen||2||Collision|
- 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.
- Gabriele Tarquini will serve a 5-place grid penalty for the first leg of the Race of Slovakia for causing an avoidable collision with Yann Ehrlacher.
Images via FIA WTCR Media