WTCR: Vital points on tough day for series leaders in Portugal

Nestor Girolami © DR

Nestor Girolami scored vital points for series leaders ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport on a tough day for Honda Civic Type R TCR drivers in the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup on the streets of Vila Real.


Saving his new tyres for Sunday’s qualifying session, which decides the grid for two races, the Argentinian qualified 14th, his progress compromised by the 50kg compensation weight carried by the Civic plus the 10kg added in a Balance of Performance adjustment this week.

A strong start gained him a position, and he was also able to take advantage of contact between KCMG’s Tiago Monteiro and another car to climb to 11th place by the chequered flag.

Team-mate Esteban Guerrieri maintained his lead of the Drivers’ Championship, despite a challenging day.

A sensor issue and yellow flags at the end of qualifying restricted him to 19th place – which became 16th due to penalties applied to other drivers – and the Argentinian did the near-impossible by climbing to 12th place a few laps from the finish.

But a sudden power loss caused him to slow for the remainder and dropped him to 24th; a result that means he still leads the standings by 15 points.

Home hero Tiago Monteiro was buoyed as KCMG’s recent resurgence continued and produced his strongest performance since the Marrakech street circuit in April.

Sadly for the Portuguese, who climbed from 15th to 10th early on, he was run off the road by a rival who braked too late for the first chicane after taking the joker lap, and fell to the back of the field while waiting for his assailant to move out of the way. He finished an unrepresentative 23rd.

Team-mate Attila Tassi’s engine-change since the Nurburgring guaranteed a back-of-the-grid start under series rules, but in showing top-15 pace in practice and qualifying, he validated several set-up options explored by his team during the day.

Staying out of trouble, despite the tightly-packed field, the Hungarian finished 21st.

Sunday features a morning qualifying session to decide the grid for two afternoon races.

Nestor Girolami #29 – – ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport : « From qualifying 14th to finishing 11th, it’s not a terrible result on a track like this where overtaking is so tough. I took the joker lap at the right time to avoid losing a place, but perhaps I could have gained one more if I’d gone a lap later. We saved our new tyres in qualifying, so we should be in good shape tomorrow with them. That was a very tight race. I made up one place at the start and another when there was an incident ahead of me. The pace looks okay for tomorrow, so if we can maximise qualifying, we should be in decent shape. »

Esteban Guerrieri #86 – ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport : « Sometimes in motorsport, everything goes right for you – and we’ve had a few days like that this year. Sometimes, however, you have days like this. You just have to learn from them and move on. I lost two runs in qualifying because of a sensor issue and then had yellow flags that left me in the midfield. I started 16th, but 11th or 12th was going to be my finishing position until I started losing power and dropped back. Hopefully we can find the issue and it won’t affect us tomorrow, because I feel both Bebu and I can still get some very good results here. »

Attila Tassi #9 – KCMG : « That was an incredibly intense race; mainly with how heavily you have to work the brakes, and the heat inside the car. We knew coming into the weekend that the engine-change penalty would put me at the back of the grid for this race, so it made sense to try some things on my car in practice, qualifying and the race and I think we’ve discovered some things that can be quite useful for tomorrow’s races. The joker lap was an interesting addition and I think tomorrow can be a good day. »

Tiago Monteiro #18 – KCMG : « The result isn’t what I was looking for, but this is racing. I’m happy to be back and fighting against the others on home soil. To put a lap together here with no mistakes is tough, so I was pretty happy with 15th in qualifying and step-by-step, we’re closing the gap. The race pace was even better and we were looking at maybe a top-10 finish. Gabriele [Tarquini] exited the joker lap, overshot the corner and I had nowhere to go, so I lost 15 places. The speed is good and I honestly feel we can still make another big step overnight. I’m confident for tomorrow. »

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