Esteban Guerrieri made it a double podium for the Honda Civic Type R TCR with a gritty drive to third place in the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup at Ningbo International Speedpark in China.
Having finished second in Saturday’s opener, the Argentinian driver magnificently rose through the field from eighth on the partially-reversed Race Two grid and snatched his fifth rostrum finish of the year for ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport.
His aim to make it a triple podium in Race Three was thwarted after just half a lap when a rival driver turned in on him while trying to defend second position and bent Esteban’s right-front suspension.
The Münnich team had suffered an already challenging day. Holding third for most of Race Two, Yann Ehrlacher was barged out of the position – and into a half-spin that cost him six more places – with just two laps remaining.
A hard hit from another car on the final lap not only put him out, but also required extensive work by his team to replace the car’s left-rear corner. Due to the short time gap between races, he was forced to start from the pitlane. He finished 19th.
A first-lap puncture in the earlier race caused an unplanned pitstop for Timo Scheider and destroyed any hope of a good result, but a gutsy drive by the German in a red-flagged Race Three meant he ended his first weekend in front-wheel-drive machinery with 11th place.
Boutsen Ginion Racing’s Ma Qinghua was one of the stars of qualifying. After going eighth-fastest in Q1, he had hopes of making the single-lap Q3 pole shoot-out, but a broken anti-roll bar restricted him to 12th on the grid.
After setting laptimes on a par with the leaders, late contact with another car removed a potentially points-paying result in Race Two. The resultant mechanical damage was enough to prevent him starting the finale.
Team-mate Tom Coronel continued his trend of making big gains in the races compared to qualifying. Twice starting 23rd, he finished 16th and 17th.
The series continues next weekend in the City of Wuhan in central China.
Esteban Guerrieri #86 : « Pace-wise, this weekend has been my best event of the season, and it felt very satisfying to finish third in Race Two, because I started eighth, took a hard hit quite early on, but could continue to a strong result. In Race Three the car I had in the first half-lap was incredible. Unfortunately, I went to overtake Norbi Michelisz, he turned in and the suspension was bent, so that was that. The progress we made with the car from FP1 through to today was excellent and that gives me a lot of confidence going forwards. »
Timo Scheider #42 : « For a second day in a row I was so close to scoring a point, but I’m satisfied with another 11th place in Race Three. In Race Two I had contact from a couple of different cars and one of the hits punctured a front tyre so I had to come in to change it. The rest of the race was a good data-gathering exercise, and we put some of the things we found into practice for Race Three. I made up lots of places early on and was confident of taking 10th, but after the red flag, the balance wasn’t quite the same. I’m excited about what we could achieve at Wuhan. »
Yann Ehrlacher #68 : « It’s been a tough day and it could have been very different. In Race Two I was able to keep third place pretty easily until the ant-roll bar broke and I had Frederic Vervisch behind me. We had some contact, which I’d call a racing incident, but I lost many places. Then I got hit hard on the last lap and it broke the whole left-rear corner. The team did an amazing job to fix the car, even if it meant starting Race Three from the pitlane with no chance of a good result. From eighth on the grid – where I should have started – I think a top-five was easily achievable. »
Qinghua Ma #55 : « Today started out very promising with eighth place in Q1, but unfortunately the anti-roll bar broke and we didn’t have time to fix it, so I ended up 12th. There were some nice battles in Race Two and in the second half of the race the pace was within a tenth or two of the leaders. The incident with Yann Ehrlacher was unfortunate. I didn’t see where his car was because I was overtaking Pepe Oriola and his car blocked my view of Yann. I’m sorry for him because he was totally innocent in the contact. The guys did an amazing job to try and fix the car, but time just ran out. Still, I’ve learned a lot and will put that into practice in Wuhan. »
Tom Coronel #9 : « Another tough day. The car feels very good on the first couple of laps when the temperatures are still building up, and I’ve been able to overtake quite a lot of cars in that early phase, but as the race keeps going, it’s tough to stay with the pace of some of the others. I had some nice battles on-track, but didn’t win any of them. We’re lacking a bit of top speed on the straights so it was tough to defend against the other cars, and that makes the whole process a bit difficult. »
Dominik Greiner – Team Manager : « Pace-wise, I’m very happy with what’s been achieved today, even if the points don’t reflect this. Esteban felt better in his car than at any other point in the weekend and he scored a very good podium from eighth on the grid in Race Two, but I’m frustrated that he has received contact again in Race Three; an event I think he stood a chance of winning. Both Yann and Timo were also victims of contact. The team were unlucky not to get Yann out for Race Three before the pitlane closed, but it was still an amazing effort to replace a complete corner. Timo’s pace in Race Three was strong and he’ll be even more of a force in Wuhan. »
Olivia Boutsen – Team Manager : « Today’s results were not what we were expecting; in fact, without the issue in qualifying for Ma Qinghua, he might have qualified in the top six, and that would have meant a very different type of day. After the contact in Race One, he had some big damage, including to the turbo and intercooler. Knowing that an engine-change penalty would be very bad in Wuhan, we decided not to risk overheating it, so he didn’t start Race Three. Tom was quite racy and was rewarded for some well-judged moves early on by finishing both races much higher than where he started. »
Mads Fischer – TCR Project Leader, JAS Motorsport : « The speed of the Civic Type R TCR looked good this weekend and the podium for Esteban in Race Two, as well as the general race pace of Esteban, Yann and Timo was a strong indication of this. Ma Qinghua did a god job on his first weekend as well, I think. I’m disappointed that the driving standards don’t seem to have improved; when you look at the number of damaged cars on the Race-Three grid, – including those of our customer racing teams – you have to think that people need to think about the next race a bit more, especially as we’re going to a street circuit next weekend. »
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