Esteban Guerrieri and Ma Qinghua led the Honda Civic Type R TCR points scorers on Sunday in two bruising races in the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup on the streets of Wuhan.
Driving for ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, Esteban qualified fifth and rocketed up to second within the first few corners of Race Three; positions he was then told to give back by race control.
He then resisted intense pressure to hang on for fourth, despite suffering a damaged exhaust from a rear-end tap earlier in the race.
Both Esteban and team-mates Yann Ehrlacher were forced off the track at the start of Race Two, causing all three to lose positions. Esteban finished 13th while Yann was 15th – a result he bettered by three places later in the day.
Timo had even worse luck as he was involved in contact through no fault of his own on the first laps of both races and retired without having completed a lap of either.
There was better news from Boutsen Ginion Racing, whose Chinese driver Ma played a starring role in front of his home crowd after reaching the Q2 section of qualifying – and only missing the Q3 pole position shoot-out by 0.1 seconds.
Ninth place in qualifying gave him a front-row starting spot on Race Two’s partially-reversed grid.
Contact from behind at the start pushed him off the track at the first corner and dropped him to 11th, but he fought back to eighth, only to be demoted to 12th with a post-race penalty for contact.
He was on top form in Race Three to finish seventh and become the first Chinese points-scorer in WTCR.
Team-mate Tom Coronel started both races from the back row, but used all his experience to gain 10 spots during the early stages of each. Unfortunately, an electrical issue meant he did not reach the chequered flag.
The weekend results mean Münnich and Boutsen Ginion hold third and 10th places in the Teams’ Championship while Esteban is the best-placed Civic Type R TCR pilot in the Drivers’ points table in sixth.
The series continues at Honda’s home racetrack, Suzuka, in three weeks’ time.
Esteban Guerrieri #86 : « Fourth is a good way to finish what’s been a tough weekend. The car has got better and better in every session and this is a good result for the whole team for the work they’ve done. I made a great start, got a push at Turn One and had to go off the track. I gained two positions and was told by race control to give them back, which I think was OK. Then towards the end I had a broken exhaust, which was costing me power and meant I had to defend really hard, so I’m pleased with the result. »
Yann Ehrlacher #68 : « I’ve had a tough day. After finishing fourth on the road yesterday, we made a change to the set-up that wasn’t so much to my liking, but still should have been OK, except I got blocked twice on my last lap in Q1 and qualified 21st. On a street circuit, you cannot do anything from there. I did make two good starts and was able to overtake, but I just started too far back to battle for points. »
Timo Scheider #42 : « It’s been an incredibly frustrating day. I haven’t completed a lap at racing speed and have had no chance to see the improvements the team have made to the car during the weekend. In Race Two a car turned in on me and in Race Three I had the track completely blocked in front of me and had nowhere to go so again I had big damage. The team did a great job to fix the front suspension between the two races, but unfortunately this just wasn’t our weekend. »
Qinghua Ma #55 : « It’s been a good day. I got into Q2 and had strong pace in both races. I think two points finishes were a good reward for the team, who did a fantastic job this weekend. We needed to change some things with the set-up for today and the Honda was much better. Starting second in Race Two, I got a push at Turn One and had to go off and lose many positions, but I overtook some cars and finished eighth before the penalty. To get seventh in Race Two was even better. To achieve this against the WTCR drivers, who really are the best touring car drivers in the world, is satisfying. »
Tom Coronel #9 : « Today has been a frustrating day. China has not been a lucky country for me this year and today there was an electrical issue that put me out of both races. It’s a shame because I made good starts in both races and was running about 10 places higher than where I started each time. I’m really looking forward to going back to Japan – a country where I raced successfully for several years – and to Suzuka, a circuit I love, where we can work to get some good results. »