The WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup heads to the Hungaroring this weekend with Honda’s Customer teams eager to push for success.
The challenging 4.4km circuit, located just outside Hungary’s capital city, Budapest, has played host to World Touring Car racing since 2011 and is one of the most popular venues on the calendar.
It’s also been a successful one for Honda with World Touring Car wins in two of the past three seasons scored by Civic racing machines.
After scoring a pair of fourth-place finishes in Morocco, Frenchman Yann Ehrlacher lies fourth in the points table and best-placed of the Honda Civic Type R TCR drivers.
The ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport driver took a pair of eighth places on his Hungaroring debut last year, but with an extra year of experience under his belt, is aiming higher this time.
Argentinian Esteban Guerrieri qualified on the second row in Hungary last year and kicked off his 2018 season by finishing sixth again in Morocco to sit 10th in the Drivers’ Championship. An exhaust issue, which was discovered post-event, affected his performance throughout the weekend.
Their British team-mate James Thompson twice finished inside the top 10 in Morocco and lies 11th overall, putting him in good shape to finish in the points for the first time at the Hungaroring.
Fellow Honda team Boutsen Ginion Racing made their World Touring Car debut in Marrakech and recorded a points finish on a closely-contested weekend.
Tom Coronel scored the team’s best result with ninth spot in Race Two and the experienced Dutchman has been a podium finisher in Hungary as recently as 2015.
His rookie team-mate Benjamin Lessennes showed solid race pace on his World Touring Car debut and is aiming to score his first championship points this weekend in the setting of a more traditional race circuit. Tiago Monteiro, still in recovery, will continue his coaching duties for Benjamin.
A sixth Civic Type R TCR will race in Hungary as local driver Attila Tassi makes his WTCR debut for HELL ENERGY Racing Team with KCMG, run by the Le Mans 24 Hours class-winning team from Hong Kong.
Tassi, 18, has shown great promise since he began racing on the global stage less than two years ago and in 2017 he was the runner-up in the TCR International Series in a Honda and notably collected a dominant double-win at the Hungaroring.
Yann Ehrlacher #68 : « It feels great to be fourth in the championship because it’s the highest I’ve been since I started racing in world touring cars. Morocco was a great weekend for the team and I and I feel we maximised everything, but now we’re feeling so positive coming out of that event that my approach is to aim for strong points every weekend and really confirm that pace everywhere. We had an extremely positive test at the Hungaroring last month and that can only help us as we push towards the podium. »
Esteban Guerrieri #86 : « Esteban Guerrieri said: “Hungary is my chance to kick-start my season after a challenging weekend in Morocco with the technical issue that prevented me from qualifying and finishing higher. It’s a tough circuit, but one where I’ve always been competitive, whatever the series. The team and I are now really starting to work well together and the Hungaroring was where they scored their first World Touring Car win five years ago, so it’s clear that we have everything we need to achieve some really strong finishes and move up the points table. »
James Thompson #15 : « Coming back into racing after a year away is never easy, but Morocco was a very positive weekend and I’m sure we can continue to push towards the front in Hungary. This is the most pre-season testing I’ve had since 2008 – when I took the first WTCC win for a Honda – and it showed in our performance in Marrakech to finish in the top six. I’ve always enjoyed racing in Budapest, both for the top city and an extremely rewarding circuit. »
Tom Coronel #9 : « I enjoy coming to Hungary because the circuit is very challenging and the fans have an incredible passion for motorsport. I’ve had mixed results here in the past, but I finished second in 2015 and that’s definitely a good target to aim to repeat. The Honda is a strong car, especially the balance it has in the medium-speed corners, so I think Hungaroring will suit it a bit better than Marrakech and should give us the chance to be much further up the order. »
Benjamin Lessennes #63 : « I’m excited to continue my debut WTCR season in Hungary and to keep pushing for my first points. Marrakech was a tough place to make my debut because I had no experience of the circuit. With the Hungaroring, I’ve driven it on a simulator, so I have a much better starting point. I’m also looking forward to working with Tiago again. The experience he is bringing to the team and myself is just phenomenal. I’m optimistic of a strong weekend. »
Attila Tassi #19 : « I’m very excited to be making my debut in front of my home crowd at the Hungaroring, and to know that I will have a team with the quality of KCMG behind me is even better. When you look at how many championships and races they’ve won in single-seaters, saloons and sportscars, you can see that the skills and experience of everyone in the team crosses over superbly. I’m sure we’ll be able to show the passionate Hungarian fans that together, we can achieve strong results. »
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