Yann Ehrlacher leaves the Hungaroring in second place in the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Championship after Honda’s Customer Racing teams scored a number of strong top-five finishes on.
Frenchman Ehrlacher, who claimed his and ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport’s first win of the year on Saturday, showed excellent pace to qualify and finish fourth in Race Three in his Honda Civic Type R TCR and add to his growing reputation.
Team-mate Esteban Guerrieri added a fifth place in Race Two, but a gamble on wet tyres during Race Three – which was suspended for 20 minutes after a rainshower – did not pay off after conditions improved immediately.
The Argentinian had qualified third, but was relegated to the tail of the field after jumping the start and incurring a drive-through penalty.
Like Ehrlacher, James Thompson suffered a loss of power in Race Two and finished several laps down after repairs in the pits. He finished seventh in Race Three.
Benjamin Lessennes scored a sensational fifth-place finish in Race Three to give himself and Boutsen Ginion Racing the best result of their short WTCR career.
The 18-year-old Belgian had made Q3 for the first time, but was moved back three places on the Race-Two grid after he arrived at pit exit fractionally late for his scheduled lap. He finished eighth and then went three places higher later on.
Team-mate Tom Coronel endured a tough day. After starting 20th in both of Sunday’s races, he twice suffered a bent steering arm after contact from rival drivers and was forced to retire on both occasions.
Wildcard entrant Attila Tassi, driving for HELL ENERGY Racing Team with KCMG, achieved his target of making it into Q2 in qualifying, but unfortunately was sent to the back of the grid for both races after he did not see a red light instructing him to stop in the pitlane.
Despite this setback, he charged through the field in both races to finish 18th and 17th, pulling off a number of highly-impressive overtaking moves in the process as he and the team prepared for their main programme for 2018; TCR Europe, which starts next weekend.
Yann Ehrlacher #68 : « One month ago I didn’t even know if I’d be racing this year, so to sit second in the championship points table is a very positive thing for me. I made Q3 for the second event in a row and things look good. Unfortunately, I didn’t finish Race 2, but it didn’t cost me a lot of points from where I was, and the guys did a great job to get my car perfect for Race Three. Now the plan is to make sure we can keep up this momentum as we prepare for the Nurburgring in two weeks. »
Esteban Guerrieri #86 : « I’m pleased to have scored some solid points today, but with the pace we had in qualifying, I’m a little disappointed things didn’t go better. I made a good start in Race Two from seventh place and finished fifth, so that’s good for the championship. I was expecting to fight for a podium in Race Three, but I made a false start and got a penalty for it, which killed my race. During the red flag, I rolled the dice and put on wet tyres, which was totally the wrong decision and I wasn’t able to make any more progress from the back. »
James Thompson #15 : « Today was much better than Saturday. We got the car back to the sharp end pace-wise and just kept on improving it during the day. In fact, if I’d qualified with the same set-up I had in Race Three, I think I’d have been able to have a serious go at Q3. I didn’t defend from Esteban in Race Two because he’s doing the full season and I’m not, so there’s no point me denying the team points, but the pace was strong all day. Best of all, there’s not a mark on the car as we head to the Nurburgring. »
Benjamin Lessennes #63 : « I’m delighted with the results from today. All weekend we’ve had strong top-six pace and today we managed to turn that into two great results with eighth and fifth. If you’d told me one month ago that I’d have a top-five finish within two WTCR events, I’d have taken it. I knew here would be easier than Marrakech because Hungaroring is a regular circuit and together we’ve had a very good day. »
Tom Coronel #9 : « Today has not been a good day. When you qualify in the midfield, you know things are going to be tight, and today I was just hit a lot. In Race Two I was hit and suffered bent steering and had to retire. The same thing happened in Race Three – only this time even harder – so I had no option but to come into the pits and stop. It’s a shame, but Nurburgring will be much better as it’s a demanding track where hopefully my experience will give me a bit of an advantage. »
Attila Tassi #19 : « Speed-wise, today was much better. The team worked really hard to make the car more to my liking and we had the speed to challenge for the top 10. Unfortunately, I lost my qualifying times so I had to start from the back twice, but the pace was still strong and I could make up lots of places. If I’d started where I qualified, I think I would have had points. If I get another opportunity to race in WTCR soon, I know we can be competitive again. »
Dominik Greiner – Team Manager : « Today we’ve scored more solid points and strengthened our position in the Teams’ Championship, as well as seeing Yann sit second in the Drivers’ points table. It was unfortunate that both Yann and James could not finish Race Two, but the team did a fantastic job to get both cars on the grid for Race Three – despite the minimal time available – and we scored a double-points finish. This is a very good position to be in as we approach our home event at the Nurburgring. »
Olivia Boutsen – Team Manager : « Today has been fantastic for Benjamin and for the team. Despite his lack of experience of this circuit, he’s scored our best result in WTCR in two successive races. Fifth place in only our second weekend in WTCR is more than we were expecting, and this is a great platform to build on for the next few events. It’s a shame that Tom suffered race-ending damage in both races, but he’ll bounce back strongly. »
Dario d’Esposito : « The pace Attila has shown today has been a big improvement on yesterday. The team and Attila have worked hard to find a set-up that suits him better and you could see the results in the speed he showed in qualifying. The target was to make Q2 and we did this. Unfortunately, Attila did not see the red light in the pitlane and had his qualifying times removed, but he drove fantastically well to make up 10 places in both races. This is great practice for TCR Europe, which starts next weekend. »
Mads Fischer – TCR Project Leader, JAS Motorsport : « We’ve had mixed results today, but we still see Yann Ehrlacher second in the championship and this is a huge positive for all the drivers of the Honda Civic Type R TCR because it proves that the package is extremely competitive. It was excellent to see Boutsen Ginion Racing secure some excellent results with Benjamin and Attila’s pace in the KCMG car was also very strong in today’s races. »
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