Néstor Girolami extended his lead in the FIA World Touring Car Cup standings by claiming his third win of the season in Race 2 at the Slovakia Ring, leading home Münnich Motorsport Honda teammate Esteban Guerrieri.
Having retired from the opening race, Girolami needed to consolidate his strong start to the 2019 season in which he had already claimed a pair of wins at the Hungaroring. Starting his hastily-repaired car from the reversed-grid front row alongside Rob Huff, Girolami chased and passed the Sébastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen driver on Lap 2 with a neat move on the Briton at Turn 3.
Huff didn’t have the pace of either Honda and soon fell behind Guerrieri at the same corner to give the Münnich Motorsport squad its third double-podium result of the season.
The pair came under threat late in the race from a charging Kevin Ceccon in the Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo. The Italian had also worked ahead of the struggling Huff – along with Nicky Catsburg in the BRC Racing Hyundai – and rapidly reeled in the Honda duo, although he ultimately ran out of laps to mount a challenge. It was the youngster’s first podium finish of the season, backing up a similar result achieved by teammate Ma Qing Hua in Race 1, in a strong weekend for the Giulietta Veloce model.
Catsburg put in a fine drive to finish as the lead Hyundai in fourth from tenth on the grid; the Dutchman will start Sunday’s final Race 3 from pole position after claiming a similar result in qualifying for Race 1.
Huff claimed fifth place – the best finish of the season for the struggling VW Golf GTI runners – just ahead of Norbert Michelisz (BRC Racing Hyundai) and Mikel Azcona (PWR Racing Cupra).
WTCR rookie Niels Langeveld claimed his best finish of the season to-date in his Comtoyou Team Audi in eighth place, having briefly run fifth in the opening laps. The Dutch youngster fended off the second Alfa Romeo of Ma Qing Hua, with the Chinese driver recovering to a top-ten finish after being the victim of first-lap contact.
It was a strong race for the Dutch drivers, with Tom Coronel (Comtoyou Cupra) finishing a superb tenth after starting from 27th on the grid, with the highlight being a bold pass on Yvan Muller’s Cyan Racing Lynk & Co into Turn 1. The veteran suffered a puncture in qualifying for Races 2 and 3, masking the clear pace he and his car were enjoying.
It was a poor race for two former WTCC/WTCR title-holders, with Gabriele Tarquini finishing 19th after earning a drive-through penalty for punting Coronel’s teammate Aurélien Panis, while Thed Björk finished two laps down after pitting with front splitter damage to his Lynk & Co.
|2019 FIA WTCR Race of Slovakia – Race 2 Final Classification (9 laps)|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result||Pts|
|1.||Néstor Girolami||Münnich Motorsport||9||20:03.915||25|
|2.||Esteban Guerrieri||Münnich Motorsport||9||+ 0.651||20|
|3.||Kevin Ceccon||Team Mulsanne||9||+ 0.983||16|
|4.||Nicky Catsburg||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team||9||+ 2.626||13|
|5.||Rob Huff||SLR VW Motorsport||9||+ 4.208||11|
|6.||Norbert Michelisz||BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse||9||+ 4.589||10|
|7.||Mikel Azcona||PWR Racing||9||+ 5.094||9|
|8.||Niels Langeveld||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||9||+ 7.987||8|
|9.||Ma Qing Hua||Team Mulsanne||9||+ 8.346||7|
|10.||Tom Coronel||Comtoyou Team DHL Cupra Racing||9||+ 11.640||6|
|11.||Yvan Muller||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||9||+ 14.726||5|
|12.||Jean-Karl Vernay||Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport||9||+ 17.832||4|
|13.||Gordon Shedden||Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport||9||+ 18.095||3|
|14.||Mehdi Bennani||SLR VW Motorsport||9||+ 21.386||2|
|15.||Johan Kristoffersson||SLR Volkswagen||9||+ 21.664||1|
|16.||Tiago Monteiro||KCMG||9||+ 22.367|
|17.||Yann Ehrlacher||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||9||+ 27.918|
|18.||Andy Priaulx||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||9||+ 28.421|
|19.||Gabriele Tarquini||BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse||9||+ 28.727|
|20.||Daniel Haglöf||PWR Racing||9||+ 2:14.971|
|21.||Augusto Farfus||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team||8||+ 1 lap|
|22.||Thed Björk||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||7||+ 2 laps|
|Not Classified||Team / Entry||Laps||Reason|
|DNF.||Aurélien Panis||Comtoyou Team DHL Cupra Racing||7||Collision|
|DNF.||Luca Engstler (WC)||Hyundai Team Engstler||3||Collision|
|DNF.||Benjamin Leuchter||SLR Volkswagen||2||Collision|
|DNF.||Frédéric Vervisch||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||1||Collision|
- The top fifteen classified finishers (excluding wildcard entries) 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.
- Yann Ehrlacher was issued 5-second post-race time penalty for causing avoidable contact.
- Andy Priaulx was issued a 5-second post-race time penalty for causing avoidable contact.
Images via FIA WTCR Media