Yann Ehrlacher gave the Honda Civic Type R TCR two excellent fourth-place finishes at the opening round of the 2018 WTCR FIA World Touring Car Cup in Marrakech, Morocco.
The Frenchman impressively made it into the final Q3 section of Sunday qualifying in his JAS Motorsport-built car, which is run by ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, and set the fifth-fastest time.
From sixth on Race Two’s partially-reversed grid, he avoided some wheel-banging at the first corner to move up to fourth and finished less than a second away from the podium.
He repeated the result later on and, added to seventh place in Saturday’s race, holds fourth in the Drivers’ Championship.
His British team-mate James Thompson, who returned to the cockpit of a racing car for the first time in 18 months, was an excellent eighth in qualifying, which put him third on the grid for Race Two.
Unfortunately, he was squeezed against the pit exit at the start and was forced to lift to avoid an accident. That dropped him back from second place to seventh and he eventually finished sixth. Another strong eighth place in Race Three leaves him 11th in the Drivers’ standings.
Thompson had been spun around at the first corner of Race One, dropping him from 10th to 14th.
After being the highest-placed Münnich car with sixth in Race One, Esteban Guerrieri did well to climb to eighth in Race Two, having qualified 13th.
He was making strong progress in Race Three when he was pitched into the wall at Turn 12 by John Filippi while the pair battled. He finished 14th.
Esteban is 10th in the points standings while INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport are fifth in the Teams’ table and just a handful of points away from the top three.
Having been another victim of Race One’s opening-corner fiasco, Tom Coronel scored his first point of the season in Race Two with a consistent drive in his Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda to 10th.
He then missed out on a repeat result by less than a second in Race Three as he continually reeled in the cars ahead of him in the latter stages of the race.
He finished 12th and lies 15th in the Drivers’ table with Boutsen Ginion Racing eighth in the Teams’ points on their debut weekend of World Touring Car action.
Team-mate Benjamin Lessennes; the youngest driver in the field at just 18 years of age, had a tough weekend. A brake-system leak in qualifying left him 23rd on the grid for Race One, but he recovered well to 15th by the chequered flag.
He was doing even better in Race Two and had reached 12th place when a rival put him in the wall. The heavy damage sustained meant long repairs and a Race Three pitlane start, from which he finished 17th.
The next round takes place at the Hungaroring in Hungary on April 28-29.
Mads Fischer, JAS Motorsport TCR Project Leader: « The races this weekend were quite good. We identified some areas after Saturday’s race in which all the cars could be improved and today you saw that these worked quite well. Yann was able to show the pace that the Honda Civic Type R TCR had in qualifying and from making Q3 he was able to take two very strong finishes. I also wish to thank everyone who worked so hard at both teams to help get the cars on the grid. We know we have some areas that we need to improve for Hungary, but we’re aware of what these are and we’ll work hard to do this. »