Yann Ehrlacher took his ALL-INKL.com Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR to a hard-fought and well-managed victory in the opening race at Zandvoort, excelling throughout a race interrupted by a red flag and two safety car periods to not put a foot wrong.
Starting the first race of the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup Race of the Netherlands from second on the grid, a fantastic start immediately catapulted the Frenchman into the lead.
It was anything but a straightforward race though as an interruption on the opening lap led to a red flag, negating his lead and forcing him to do it all over again.
As Ehrlacher edged away from his rivals a second time, a further two safety car periods did all they could to challenge the dominance of the Münnich entry. Each time Yann managed the restart perfectly, even when the final interruption came just two laps from the flag, annulling his two second lead in a flash.
His victory today marks his second of the season and the third for the ALL-INKL.com Münnich squad.
Behind him, Boutsn Ginion Racing’s Benjamin Lessennes was looking comfortable in fifth until a judgement on a jump-start enforced a drive-through penalty, demoting him to 20th. Serving his penalty shortly after the restart, it put him way behind the pack and meant he first had to catch the pack and therefore wasn’t able to make much progress.
Münnich’s Esteban Guerrieri started tenth and was able to climb to sixth in his Civic Type R TCR, ahead of Boutsen’s Tom Coronel, whilst James Thompson was also able to climb a couple of places to finish 12th.
Tomorrow’s running, during the Dutch Bank Holiday, gets underway with the second qualifying session at 0830hrs and is followed by races two and three at 1215hrs and 1635hrs respectively.
Yann Ehrlacher #68 – 1st : « I’m very happy after today. We knew that it is quite difficult to overtake on this track so the only way was to do make a good start, which we could do. We had good pace so we knew that if we could get out front and leave the others fighting we could save the tyres a bit and manage the pace, so I still had something left at the end. I had some challenges with the red flag and the safety cars, especially the last one three laps from the end when we had a big margin which caused us a bit of late suspense! But anyway the car was great and very quick, and I must thank the team because they worked very hard and deserve this one. I’m happy to be back in the fight for the points in the championship, and it makes it easy to forget now last weekend. »
Esteban Guerrieri #86 – 6th : « It was positive to start tenth and finish sixth – that’s always good. Even though the qualifying this morning was a bit compromised. It was a bit of a messy race with the red flag and the safety car periods. During the race out of turn 12 I hit a hole I didn’t know was there at the end of the kerb so my front right had a vibration, so after that I just lifted and cruised to the end. It’s hard to pass here so we need to have a better qualifying tomorrow morning to put us further up the field. »
Tom Coronel #9 – 7th : « Yesterday was a shock and we had some areas to work on but we managed to solve overnight. I already saw in qualifying that there was good bite from the car and I could place it on the track where I wanted which is exactly what we wanted. It’s always good in front of a home crowd to have the best result of the season, and I feel like the positive flow is there now. It’s fantastic to see so many fans here all so enthusiastic – they know touring cars well here from the last 15 years and we always appreciate all their support and cheers. »
James Thompson #15 – 12th : « There was a bit of concertina in the middle of the field as we could make up time in some areas and lost out in others so without taking more risk there wasn’t really much chance to make up places. The relative pace of the cars was fairly similar so the best time you were going to make up places was at the start, and after that it was made more difficult without taking big lunges. We were in the top ten yesterday and then this morning we struggled a little, but I think we weren’t alone. It’s a tricky track to get the tyres warmed up correctly because it’s such a short lap, but we’ll start again tomorrow and hope to make more early progress. »
Benjamin Lessennes #63 – 19th : « At the first start the lights were red for a long time and I think I just predicted a little bit too much so I lifted the clutch a little bit too much and that was it – I was given the drive-through penalty. Now it’s one race with zero points and I can’t afford to make a mistake again, but tomorrow is another day with two big races. I was fifth for the first start and after the red flag which was not bad, but after I had the drive-through penalty I was so far behind the rest that I could only make up one more place. Now we need to just go again tomorrow. »
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