Estoril WTCR: Honda's Tassi wins as loose bonnet costs Monteiro
Attila Tassi saved Honda’s blushes to score his first World Touring Car Cup victory after a loose bonnet cost Tiago Monteiro what had looked like a certain home win at Estoril.
Munnich Motorsport’s quartet of Civic Type Rs had qualified 1-2-3-5 on Saturday, but the team’s weekend unravelled over the course of two eventful races on Sunday.
In the reverse-grid race one, Nestor Girolami triggered a first-corner multi-car collision that left him with heavy front-end damage. The team was forced to break parc ferme rules to repair the Honda, so Girolami started the second race at the back instead of from third on the grid.
Then Argentine countryman Esteban Guerrieri blew his race two pole position by making a disastrous getaway, blaming a distraction caused by his engine’s anti-lag system for his slow start that left Monteiro clear to take the lead.
The former Jordan grand prix driver led comfortably, negotiating a safety car restart caused by Mikel Azcona pushing Tom Coronel off on lap one – but then became unstuck when the front right corner of his bonnet flapped open. He was shown the black and orange flag and was forced to pit, thereby losing not only victory but the WTCR points lead he had earned with a solid fourth place from ninth on the grid in race one.
Tassi then faced down a trio of Hyundais that chased him home over the final five laps. At 22, the Hungarian becomes the youngest WTCR race winner.
“It was a mega race,” said Tassi. “First of all I’m really sorry for Esteban and even more for Tiago. But it’s deja vu. Two years ago at Vila Real it was the same, but the other way around,” referencing a race at the Portuguese street track in 2019, when he’d been forced to retire from the lead and which Monteiro then won.
“This is my first win in WTCR and I’m very happy, but it should have been two years ago. But what happens comes around.”
Vernay’s Engstler Hyundai Elantra N TCR headed the chase of Tassi from Norbert Michelisz and Gabriele Tarquini. Second place for the Frenchman earned him back the WTCR points lead he’d lost to Monteiro in race one, when he’d incurred a puncture in the first-corner corner contact caused by Girolami. The Honda had piled into the back of Michelisz, who was also forced out of the race by the incident.
Reigning champion Yann Ehrlacher won the reverse grid encounter after beating polesitter Tarquini to Turn 1. The Italian picked up a puncture caused by debris, which allowed Ehrlacher’s uncle Yvan Muller and Santiago Urrutia to make it a Lynk & Co 1-2-3, just days after parent company Geely had publicly criticised WTCR organiser Eurosport Events for its Balance of Performance management.
All four of the Chinese cars finished in the top 10 in race two, despite appearing to lack straightline speed. Urrutia was fifth, Ehrlacher sixth, Thed Bjork seventh and Muller ninth.
Rob Huff, who has returned to the WTCR this year in a Zengo Motorsport Cupra Leon Competicion, scored a pair of 10th place finishes in the two races.
Race 1 results:
|1||68||Yann Ehrlacher||Lynk & Co|
|2||100||Yvan Muller||Lynk & Co||1.746|
|3||12||Santiago Urrutia||Lynk & Co||3.411|
|8||11||Thed Björk||Lynk & Co||10.848|
|View full results|
Race 2 results:
|5||Santiago Urrutia||Lynk & Co||7.814|
|6||Yann Ehrlacher||Lynk & Co||8.757|
|7||Thed Björk||Lynk & Co||11.661|
|9||Yvan Muller||Lynk & Co||16.465|
|View full results|
Geely Group blasts WTCR organiser over Lynk & Co BoP
Huff lands first WTCR points despite “out of our hands” speed deficit