Honda Civic Type R TCR drivers scored a double-points finish in the first of three races held as part of the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup’s Race of Germany at the legendary Nürburgring.
From seventh and 11th spots on the starting grid, Boutsen Ginion Racing duo Tom Coronel and Benjamin Lessennes survived first-corner contact to come home ninth and 10th after a closely-fought race.
The results solidified their championship positions while keeping the Belgian outfit sixth in the Teams’ points table.
Esteban Guerrieri, who was the highest-placed driver of a Civic Type R TCR in qualifying, was unable to make use of his fourth place on the grid as the ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport driver was spun to the back of the field by a rival driver exiting the second corner. He retired in the pits with rear-suspension damage.
His team-mates Yann Ehrlacher and James Thompson finished 19th and 22nd; Frenchman Ehrlacher suffering first-corner contact while in a top-10 position and then dropping back into the pack later in the lap.
Münnich Motorsport remain third in the Teams’ Championship while Yann’s misfortune dropped him from second to fifth in the Drivers’ points.
Wildcard entrant Kris Richard, who was making his WTCR debut with KCMG, qualified 21st and finished 17th after a solid drive.
Tom Coronel #9 : « I’m pleased to score my best finish of the year and to be the first Honda home, but it was a very tough race. I think I was hit about 10 times on the first lap with Frederic Vervisch, in particular, being very aggressive. I had a small issue on turn-in, which got progressively worse during the race as the tyres became worn, and it was just so difficult to defend positions on the long straight at the end of the lap once another car gets in your slipstream. It’s a good platform for tomorrow where hopefully we can do even better. »
Benjamin Lessennes #63 : « To score points in my first race at the most difficult circuit in the world is a good feeling. I made a good start, but I was pushed into the gravel at the first corner and as I rejoined, I had come contact and damaged my front splitter, which meant my car was oversteering a bit more than it should do in the right-handers. I could stay in the train of cars, in the corners and gained quite a bit under braking, but on the long straight it’s impossible to defend. After Hungary, my aim is to score points everywhere, so I’m happy with this result. »
Yann Ehrlacher #68 : « There’s not much to say really. I was hit coming out of Turn 2, lost all my momentum and dropped to something like 26th or 27th place, and I recovered to 19th in three laps, which isn’t bad at a track like this where there’s only one or two overtaking places. I’m sure I would have been much further up the grid had I not had to slow on my final qualifying lap for yellow flags and lose a lot of time, but that’s racing. We have another qualifying session tomorrow and two races on Saturday, so I’m aiming for two strong results. »
James Thompson #15 : « Having only done six laps around here in a rental car before today, I needed as much track time in dry as possible. Unfortunately, we never had that in practice because of the rain – although we were actually quite quick in the wet – and in dry qualifying I only managed two laps and had to back off on my last one because of a yellow flag. But I finished the race and the car’s in one piece, so there’s plenty of opportunities to move forwards tomorrow. »
Esteban Guerrieri #86 : « It’s frustrating not to score points today. The build-up to qualifying was strong and I was able to do a good time to start on the second row. I made a decent start and then Gabriele Tarquini spun me around and damaged my suspension, so that was my race over after just a few seconds. It’s a shame because I’m sure I could have stayed with the leading pack through most of the lap and finished in the top five. »
Kris Richard #94 : « We’ve come through a tough day without a scratch on the car, so that’s positive, but I was hoping for better than 17th place. Looking at where we were compared to the other Hondas, it’s clear the 20kg we have to carry as a wildcard entry has had an effect on the speed we could show, especially on acceleration out of the uphill corners. I also had a lower seatbelt strap come undone, which meant the rest rode up on me and left me pretty uncomfortable. Tomorrow, I think we have the potential to do better. »
Olivia Boutsen – Team Manager : « We’ve scored double-points for the first time in the WTCR, so that’s great news for the team. The fact that we’ve had both drivers setting pretty even laptimes in the race shows what a great job the team have done in preparing the cars, and it’s also extremely encouraging to see Benjamin running so competitively when he’s never driven a racing car around here before. Tomorrow I think we can move forwards another step. »
Dominik Greiner – Team Manager : « After a pretty positive qualifying session with Esteban, this race was not an ideal start to our home event. Esteban was taken out by Gabriele Tarquini and Yann was also hit at the second corner, but we radioed both drivers and asked if they felt it was safe to continue. Yann said yes, so he did. James is a Nürburgring rookie and wasn’t helped by mixed weather conditions in practice that stopped him getting the experience he needed. We aim to bounce back strongly tomorrow. »
Matteo Chiarcossi – Team Manager : « Today was a hard day. We planned to use free practice to help Kris acclimatise to the car, but the mixed weather conditions meant we were not able to work through our plan and tweak the set-up as intended. He did a good job in the race and finished four places higher than he qualified. We’ll work on things tomorrow before our qualifying session, which is in the evening. »
Mads Fischer – TCR Project Leader, JAS Motorsport : « It’s been a disappointing day for all our customer teams, especially as the three cars that started in the top 10 all suffered contact at the first corner, and from there it was difficult to recover. We still saw Boutsen Ginion Racing score a double-points finish, so this is one positive that we must be satisfied with. »
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