Esteban Guerreri gave the Honda Civic Type R TCR a perfect end to the inaugural WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup with a stunning victory on the fabled Macau Guia Circuit, while team-mate Timo Scheider also claimed his maiden podium finish in the series.
Esteban made a superb start to snatch the lead into the first corner and resisted intense pressure for the opening 11 laps of the race; his task made slightly easier by a late incident that forced a safety-car finish.
It was the Argentinian’s second win of the year and the fourth for a Honda. Coupled with a fifth-place finish in Race Two, it allowed he and ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport to secure third place in both the Drivers’ and Teams’ points tables.
Not only that; Esteban’s victory means that the Civic Type R TCR has now won in each of the three seasons in which it has appeared in Macau, adding to successes in 2015 and ’16.
Team-mate Timo had earlier finished a career-best second after a determined rearguard defence of his position for most of the race.
The German was denied the chance of points in the finale, however, when a suspension failure – caused by damage sustained in a hit from another car – put him out.
Yann Ehrlacher, driving the third Münnich Motorsport car, took two solid finishes in sixth and fifth. The Frenchman was spun around through 360 degrees at Lisboa at the start of Race Two, but miraculously regained control without contact and even maintained his fifth place.
After dutifully allowing team-mate Esteban to pass to help his Drivers’ Championship prospects, Yann finished sixth and then went one better later on and set fastest lap in the process.
Boutsen Ginion Racing’s Ma Qing Hua was unlucky to miss out on a points finish to end his WTCR comeback.
The Chinese driver started both races from 16th, but climbed to 13th and 11th by the finish of both races. His Race Three result was particularly unlucky as he’d been applying heavy pressure to the two cars ahead when the safety car came out for the finish.
Team-mate Tom Coronel made even greater progress. Twice he started 23rd and twice he drove through the field; maximising the speed of his Honda on the hillside to finish 16th and 14th.
New TCR China Teams’ Champions MacPro Racing made it three finishes out of three on their debut WTCR weekend at their home circuit.
Their Macanese driver, Andre Couto, was 20th in Race Two and finished 18th in Race Three.
Esteban Guerrieri #86 (ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport) : « It feels incredible to finish the season in this way. I’ve won on the Nordschleife and at Macau; the two circuits everyone wants to win at, and I’m just so happy. The racing has been incredibly hard today, but also very fair and that’s also a very good thing. I’ve now had two seasons racing in World Touring Cars. Last year I won the last race and finished fourth in the points, and now I’ve won the last race and taken third overall. I’ve had a fantastic car all weekend thanks to an incredible job by the team, and this means I can go into the winter on a very big high. »
Timo Scheider #42 (ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport) : « I thought it was mega yesterday to get my first points in the WTCR, but to get my first podium one day later – on my first visit to Macau – feels absolutely awesome. The team hasn’t changed one thing on the car since we rolled out in FP1 on Friday, which has meant I could just focus on improving my driving with a consistent car. In Race Three Frederic Vervisch pushed me down the escape road. That damaged my front suspension, which collapsed going into Mandarin at high speed. I didn’t crash, but that was race over. »
Yann Ehrlacher #68 (ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport) : « Today has been a strong day. There’s been good pace in the Honda over the lap as a whole, but Macau is a circuit where passing is tough if you don’t have the fastest car in a straight line. I was very lucky to get the car pointing the right way after doing a 360-degree spin when I was hit at the start of Race Two. I think back to the gearshift issue I had in qualifying, because without that, I’m confident I could have started where Esteban did and won Race Three – in which I set fastest lap. »
Qing Hua Ma #55 (Boutsen Ginion Racing) : « Yesterday I made up a lot of ground from my starting position, so today, from 16th on the grid both times, I really wanted points. Both races were tough; it’s hard to close in on the cars in front of you through the corners and then lose out on the straights just because of the way the BoP is, but it left me with no chance to overtake unless I could force the other driver into a mistake. We changed the car a lot from yesterday and it worked very well. It’s given the team some very useful data that should help them next time they race here. »
Tom Coronel #9 (Boutsen Ginion Racing) : « I’m pleased with my race pace today; some changes we made to the car since qualifying totally transformed it and gave me a Honda that I was confident to attack with. In Race One I was fighting with Yann Ehrlacher, who has been in the front five all weekend, and in Race Three I was staying with Frederic Vervisch, who won this morning. Qualifying has been something we’ve needed to improve on all year and I think if we’d had a better Friday, there’s no reason why I couldn’t have scored points in all three races. »
Andre Couto #89 (MacPro Racing Team) : « I’m very pleased that I’ve had the chance to return to the Macau Guia race with a Macanese team and we’ve had great support from the local fans. I’d like to have given them a better result to cheer for, but the reality is that the races didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. We’ve had a small technical issue all weekend that’s costing us power through every phase of acceleration and that’s made it tough to compete against the full-time cars. I think the team can benefit from the experience of competing here and it would be great to come back another year much stronger. »