Esteban Guerrieri and ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport head to Sepang, Malaysia, this weekend with one objective; to win the the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup with their Honda Civic Type R TCRs.
Esteban has scored three wins and six other podium finishes in 2019 and is part of a four-way fight for the Drivers’ Championship with just three of 30 races remaining as he seeks to claim his first world title.
The 34-year-old Argentinian lies second in the standings, eight points away from the championship lead, with 85 on offer at Sepang. But with the top four drivers separated by just 28 points, a title success is likely to require a big score on Sunday.
Not only is Esteban in contention for the Drivers’ title, but ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport arrive at the finale in the fight for the Teams’ Championship for the first time in World Touring Car racing.
They are third and 88 points away from the lead with 153 available, meaning a strong performance in qualifying from both Esteban and team-mate Nestor Girolami will be crucial as they seek to score the 18 bonus points on offer to each outfit on Friday.
Team-mate Nestor is aiming to rediscover the early-season form that brought him three wins from the opening three events and put him into an early series lead.
The Argentinian, who has suffered poor luck during the Asian leg of WTCR’s calendar, is eighth in the Drivers’ Championship, but is embroiled in a seven-way fight for fifth spot, of which he is currently just nine points shy.
KCMG’s Tiago Monteiro is one of the few drivers in the field to have raced at Sepang, the Portuguese having twice taken part in the Formula 1 Malaysian Grand Prix there.
The Vila Real race-winner is aiming to end his maiden WTCR campaign on a high at a track whose long, sweeping corners should suit the strengths of the Civic.
Team-mate Attila Tassi, who became the WTCR’s youngest polesitter at Vila Real, has made strong progress during his maiden campaign at touring-car racing’s highest level.
Like his more-experienced team-mate, the series rookie has raced at Sepang and recorded a pair of top-10 finishes when TCR International visited Malaysia in 2016.
For the third consecutive race, KCMG will run a third Civic Type R TCR for a wildcard driver, competing under the KC Motorgroup Ltd banner as Joao Paulo de Oliveira makes his WTCR debut.
The Brazilian, 38, has won major Formula 3 titles in South America, Germany and Japan and was the Formula Nippon (now Super Formula) Champion in 2010. This year he has raced for KCMG’s GT team globally as well as winning races in Super Taikyu in Japan.
Esteban Guerrieri #86 – ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport : « Before the season started, my aim was to come to the final round with a good chance of winning the championship, and after I won the first race in Morocco, I knew it was a realistic possibility. The team have done a fantastic job all year to keep pushing and get us to this position and I know they’ll leave no stone unturned in our effort to win. Now there are just three races left and four drivers in the battle, but I think we have as good a chance as anybody else. I’m second in the points, so the reality is that I have to attack if I’m going to be champion, but there are other drivers who need to take even bigger risks, so I’m feeling good about the situation I’m in. »
Nestor Girolami #29 – ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport : « We come to Sepang with everything to play for; Esteban in the Drivers’ Championship and the rest of us in the Teams’ title race. My job is to do whatever I can to try and get us to win both. The spirit in the team has been incredible this year, both when we’ve been winning and when times have been tough, and maintaining that into the weekend will be crucial. With quite a good mix of slow and fast corners, I think the Honda will be fast on overall laptime, and racing at night will add an extra bit of interest to what I think will be some exciting races. We just have to give it everything and see if it’s enough. »
Tiago Monteiro #18 – KCMG : « I can’t believe it’s almost the end of the championship already; the season has gone by so fast. We’ve had some huge highs like the victory in Portugal in front of my home fans and the pole position at Suzuka, and you can see from the number of races won by Hondas that it’s a strong car. Sepang was a huge challenge when I raced there in Formula 1 because of the heat and humidity even outside the car. The speeds are lower and the races are shorter in WTCR, plus we’re racing later in the day, so that will be easier to cope with, but I still expect the action on-track to be intense. The aim, as always, is to finish strongly and go into the winter break on a high. »
Attila Tassi #9 – KCMG : « I haven’t raced at Sepang since my first year in TCR racing in 2016, but I enjoyed my first experience and can use that this weekend as the layout hasn’t changed at all. Asia has been a bit frustrating because, after taking my best points weekend in the WTCR in China, I’ve been hit on the first lap of almost every race since and sustained damage that’s limited the performance of my car and prevented me from taking quite a few points finishes that I think the team has deserved. If I can avoid this in Malaysia, I’m sure I can end the season with some good results and maybe gain a few positions in the championship. »
Joao Paulo de Oliveira #38 – KC Motorgroup : « I’m really looking forward to taking part in the WTCR event at Sepang. It will be quite a challenge as I’ve never raced a TCR car before, but I hope to adapt quickly and be competitive throughout the weekend. My goal is to be able to challenge the more experienced drivers and fight for a top-10 position in the races. »