The Honda Civic Type R TCR scored a double-points finish in the first race of WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup season finale on the iconic Macau Guia Circuit in Asia.
Esteban Guerrieri and Timo Scheider finished sixth and eighth for ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport; the latter scoring his first WTCR points.
Esteban started second, but was hung out to dry on the long, flat-out run to the tight Lisboa right-hander on the first lap and dropped four positions. Despite showing excellent speed through the twisty hillside section, he did not regain any places.
Timo, who was racing at Macau for the first time, started 10th, gained two places by the halfway mark and finished at the back of a queue of cars fighting over fourth.
Yann Ehrlacher; relegated to the back of the grid with an engine-change penalty, started from the pitlane in a deliberate attempt by his team to avoid an opening-lap incident.
It worked perfectly and the Frenchman, who was fourth-fastest in qualifying, climbed from 28th to 14th in just 10 laps.
Boutsen Ginion Racing’s Ma Qing Hua; returning to the WTCR after missing the Suzuka round, made a rocket start to climb from 14th to ninth within the opening couple of corners. This came after his team had changed a driveshaft in only five minutes on the grid.
Unfortunately, he sustained damage when hit up the rear at Lisboa on the second lap; an incident that also nudged him into another car and gave him front-end damage. He retired with a lap to go.
Team-mate Tom Coronel made a last-minute gamble into Lisboa on the first lap that not only helped him avoid a multi-car incident on the first lap, but also enabled him to gain several positions. He finished 13th.
Macau wildcard Andre Couto followed Coronel through the Lisboa wreckage and also anticipated two further incidents; the second of which brought out the red flags, superbly, and avoided major damage of his own.
The MacPro Racing Team driver finished 21st after being delayed when his Civic would not fire up immediately at the restart.
Esteban Guerrieri #86 (ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport) : « I started second and I finished sixth, so of course I’m not happy about that. I made an okay start, but was on the outside of the track for Mandarin, where I had to make a bigger lift off the power than normal because I wasn’t on the optimum line. That lost me more time and I was sixth by Lisboa. The car was great in the twisty section, but the straightline speed we have under the current BoP meant I wasn’t able to attack in the wide, fast sections. It’s still useful points. »
Timo Scheider #42 (ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport) : « The target when I came into WTCR three rounds ago was to score points, so it feels mega to have achieved that; and to say that my most competitive weekend in a front-wheel-drive car has some at the most difficult street circuit in the world, and a totally new circuit for me. I start Race Two from pole position tomorrow, so it was vitally important to get through today without any trouble. I’m pleased with the job everyone in the team has done to achieve this. »
Yann Ehrlacher #68 (ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport) : « I’m pleased with the pace of the car today. Starting last because of my engine-change penalty, we took a strategic decision to start from the pitlane. It was a good choice because it meant I avoided the accident on the first lap at Lisboa. After that I was able to pass a few cars and make up more positions as more drivers went off. Today was always about getting things set-up for Sunday, where I start in the top six both times, and I think we’re looking in decent shape. »
Tom Coronel #9 (Boutsen Ginion Racing) : « That was a real touring car race and typical of the kind of action you get at Macau. Somehow I missed the mess at Lisboa on the first lap, but I think it was all my experience of racing here that made me think ‘stick to the inside and you’ll be ok.’ I got into a good battle after the red flag with Frederic Vervisch and Yann Ehrlacher and that was quite hard, but fair, racing in the last couple of laps. The pace of the car is pretty reasonable and another step up from qualifying. Things are going in the right direction. »
Qing Hua Ma #55 (Boutsen Ginion Racing) : « Today was a real shame because I think we were pretty certain to score some good points. I made an amazing start and got up from 14th to ninth, but then there was an incident at Lisboa. John Filippi came around the outside, so I scrubbed off a bit of speed to take a tighter line and I got a hit from behind by Thed Bjork. That pushed me into Filippi, put him in the wall and damaged my car. Even starting was an achievement; my driveshaft broke on the lap to the grid, but the team did an incredible job to change it in only five minutes. Those guys are awesome. »
Andre Couto #89 (MacPro Racing Team) : « It was tough out there today. I had to basically stop the car at Lisboa on the first lap to get through the accident, and did the same on the next lap when two cars collided at San Francisco bend. When I saw I’d made up about 10 places from my grid position, I thought ‘yeah great’. Then I came through the corner at Moorish Hill and there was a car at 90 degrees, so I stopped suddenly and was hit from behind. After the red flag I couldn’t restart the car, so we lost some time, but I think if we can sort those problems, tomorrow should be okay for us. »
Dominik Greiner – Team Manager ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport : « We’ve scored double points today, which includes the best finish to date – and the first points in WTCR – for Timo, which is extremely welcome. Starting second with Esteban, naturally we were hoping for a podium, but while our car is very strong on the hill section, it’s incredibly difficult to defend on the long straights when your rivals have very good top speed. Tomorrow we start on the front row for both races and we’ll work hard overnight to make sure all three of our drivers are in a position to fully maximise the Hondas. »
Olivia Boutsen – Team Manager Boutsen Ginion Racing : « We definitely had points within our grasp today, so it’s such a shame that Ma was taken out of the race by Thed Bjork so early, when he’d climbed from 14th to ninth. Even Tom was close to the points, which didn’t look likely from 18th on the grid, but he drove a strong race. I have to say a huge congratulations to our mechanics too, who changed Ma’s driveshaft in five minutes on the grid; they’re superheroes for that. It would be great to reward them with some points tomorrow. »
Miguel Kong – Team Principal MacPro Racing Team : « It was a typical Macau race today and Andre did well to avoid two accidents on the first two laps. He got a bit of damage at the rear while trying to avoid Gordon Shedden’s spun car at half-distance, and then we had an issue getting the car fired-up at the restart, which lost about 50 seconds, so after that it was a case of making sure the car made the finish so we can sort out our few issues for tomorrow’s pair of races. »
Mads Fischer – TCR Project Leader, JAS Motorsport : « Macau is like two totally different circuits stuck together. You have the flat-out blast next to the sea and then the narrow, twisty hillside section. All the Civic Type R TCRs have performed well in the corners, but under the current BoP conditions, it’s been very difficult for the drivers to attack strongly into the one big braking zone at Lisboa; the end of the main
straight. They all did a strong job today to avoid accidents and maximise the conditions, but I am sorry to see that Ma Qing Hua didn’t get the points he deserved through no fault of his or the team’s. »