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.
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
|1||Santiago Urrutia||Lynk & Co||14||26'17.538|
|5||Yvan Muller||Lynk & Co||14||26'23.249||5.711|
|11||Yann Ehrlacher||Lynk & Co||14||26'29.225||11.687|
|13||Thed Björk||Lynk & Co||14||26'30.322||12.784|
|21||Nathanael Berthon||Audi||11||26'57.840||3 Laps|
|View full results|
Race 2 Result
|1||Yann Ehrlacher||Lynk & Co||17||31'49.017|
|4||Yvan Muller||Lynk & Co||17||31'55.011||5.994|
|8||Thed Björk||Lynk & Co||17||31'59.147||10.130|
|13||Santiago Urrutia||Lynk & Co||17||32'09.356||20.339|
|19||Jean-Karl Vernay||Hyundai||16||32'36.795||1 Lap|
|Tom Coronel||Audi||1||2'09.484||16 Laps|
|Nestor Girolami||Honda||1||2'36.167||16 Laps|
|View full results|
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