WTCR Adria: Ehrlacher closes on title with victory

Yann Ehrlacher has one hand on a second consecutive World Touring Car Cup after scoring a convincing victory from pole position at Adria in Italy.

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The Frenchman drove conservatively to 11th in the partially reversed grid race one, but led all the way in race two following his maximum points haul during qualifying on Saturday.

The result leaves the Cyan Racing Lynk & Co driver with a huge 35-point lead over Comtoyou Audi's Frederic Vervisch, who rose from fourth to second in the standings in Adria, with just the final rounds of the season to come at Sochi in Russia on November 27/28.

Ehrlacher's main concern was making a clean getaway from the lights, which he was able to do, moving left to stop fellow front row starter Vervisch making a move into Turn 1. Vervisch and Comtoyou Audi teammate Gilles Magnus pushed the leader through the first couple of corners, but couldn't live with him thereafter.

"It was a tough race," insisted Ehrlacher despite his dominance. "We are having some difficulties with our starts and the team worked late to provide us with a new system to get us off the line. We have changed the system after three years and it worked. The car was amazing."

Behind Ehrlacher, the opening lap proved chaotic. Thed Björk, who started fourth, was edged off the track in skirmishes with the Audis and could only recover to finish eighth.

Meanwhile, Jean-Karl Vernay's dwindling title hopes were effectively ended when his Engstler Hyundai was damaged in contact with Nestor Girolami and Tom Coronel. The incident was triggered by a collision between Girolami and Yvan Muller.

"Muller hit me from behind and pushed me off the track," said a furious Girolami. "It was completely unnecessary."

Vernay pitted and returned to the track to finish 19th and last.

Muller finished fourth, chased all the way by retiring local hero Gabriele Tarquini, who made up for his mistake in qualifying by climbing from 12th on the grid to finish fifth in what will be his last race on Italian soil before he retires from racing.

Esteban Guerrieri added a sixth place to his third place podium in race one, which leaves the Argentinian third in the standings, one point behind Vervisch.

Ehrlacher's victory made it a weekend clean sweep for Lynk & Co following Santiago Urrutia's second win of the season in race one. The Uruguayan was slower away from the partially reversed-grid pole position than fellow front row starter Guerrieri, the Munnich Motorsport Honda taking the lead into Turn 1.

But at the end of the first lap Urrutia tapped the Honda at the penultimate turn, then muscled his way past at the final corner with a move up the inside, and led the rest of the race.

"I knew the start would be difficult," said Urrutia, who could only finish 13th in race two.

"Honda is always a little better than us. But then Esteban left the door open and it was good. I could then control the race. It's a good result and I'm happy for Cyan."

Guerrieri was unhappy about the contact that occurred for Urrutia to complete his move.

"I don't think it is the best way to gain a position and of course I am pissed off," he said.

"We all can do this, we all know how to race, we all know how to be aggressive up to a limit and then if you go over the limit it's easy to do it, but it's not fair."

He then lost second place to Coronel, who scored the best result of his season thanks to an outside pass on the Honda driver at the final turn on lap 10 of 14.

Race 1 Result

Cla Driver Chassis Laps Time Gap
1 Uruguay Santiago Urrutia Lynk & Co 14 26'17.538  
2 Netherlands Tom Coronel Audi 14 26'18.970 1.432
3 Argentina Esteban Guerrieri Honda 14 26'20.890 3.352
4 Hungary Norbert Michelisz Hyundai 14 26'22.213 4.675
5 France Yvan Muller Lynk & Co 14 26'23.249 5.711
6 Belgium Frederic Vervisch Audi 14 26'24.495 6.957
7 Belgium Gilles Magnus Audi 14 26'25.273 7.735
8 Argentina Nestor Girolami Honda 14 26'27.478 9.940
9 France Jean-Karl Vernay Hyundai 14 26'27.938 10.400
10 Italy Gabriele Tarquini Hyundai 14 26'28.535 10.997
11 France Yann Ehrlacher Lynk & Co 14 26'29.225 11.687
12 Spain Mikel Azcona CUPRA 14 26'29.613 12.075
13 Sweden Thed Björk Lynk & Co 14 26'30.322 12.784
14 United Kingdom Rob Huff CUPRA 14 26'32.817 15.279
15 Germany Luca Engstler Hyundai 14 26'34.363 16.825
16 Hungary Attila Tassi Honda 14 26'34.796 17.258
17 Portugal Tiago Monteiro Honda 14 26'36.210 18.672
18 Bence Boldizs CUPRA 14 26'37.576 20.038
19 Italy Nicola Baldan Hyundai 14 26'41.154 23.616
20 Spain Jordi Gene CUPRA 14 26'44.099 26.561
21 France Nathanael Berthon Audi 11 26'57.840 3 Laps

Race 2 Result

Cla Driver Chassis Laps Time Gap
1 France Yann Ehrlacher Lynk & Co 17 31'49.017  
2 Belgium Frederic Vervisch Audi 17 31'52.373 3.356
3 Belgium Gilles Magnus Audi 17 31'53.109 4.092
4 France Yvan Muller Lynk & Co 17 31'55.011 5.994
5 Italy Gabriele Tarquini Hyundai 17 31'55.524 6.507
6 Argentina Esteban Guerrieri Honda 17 31'57.572 8.555
7 Hungary Norbert Michelisz Hyundai 17 31'58.660 9.643
8 Sweden Thed Björk Lynk & Co 17 31'59.147 10.130
9 Germany Luca Engstler Hyundai 17 32'00.163 11.146
10 United Kingdom Rob Huff CUPRA 17 32'01.063 12.046
11 Spain Mikel Azcona CUPRA 17 32'02.248 13.231
12 Hungary Attila Tassi Honda 17 32'06.886 17.869
13 Uruguay Santiago Urrutia Lynk & Co 17 32'09.356 20.339
14 France Nathanael Berthon Audi 17 32'09.821 20.804
15 Portugal Tiago Monteiro Honda 17 32'12.459 23.442
16 Bence Boldizs CUPRA 17 32'15.091 26.074
17 Spain Jordi Gene CUPRA 17 32'16.038 27.021
18 Italy Nicola Baldan Hyundai 17 32'16.817 27.800
19 France Jean-Karl Vernay Hyundai 16 32'36.795 1 Lap
  Netherlands Tom Coronel Audi 1 2'09.484 16 Laps
  Argentina Nestor Girolami Honda 1 2'36.167 16 Laps
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