WTCR : Podium and points for Guerrieri on tough day for Civic Type R TCR racers

Esteban Guerrieri bagged a podium and two further top-10 finishes on an otherwise testing day for the Münnich Motorsport teams in the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup at the Slovakiaring.

The 2019 WTCR runner-up showed the full range of his skills on Sunday – first by rising up the race-one order to finish fourth, then fending off faster cars to bag his second podium of the campaign in race two, before a similar performance in the finale as he finished seventh.

Esteban made an outstanding charge during race one; despite slipping a couple of positions at the start, he had battled back into his starting position of ninth by the end of the first lap, and gained another place on lap two.

As the pack ahead – which included his ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport team-mate Nestor Girolami – squabbled for position, Esteban used the opportunity to get involved and followed ‘Bebu’ through as the pair jumped up to fourth and fifth, with an unplanned but ultimately fair battle between the pair going in Esteban’s favour on the final lap.

Esteban went one better in race two, as he took advantage of the front three tripping over each other into Turn 1 at the start of the race to grab the lead.

Having spent four laps behind the Safety Car, the Argentinian maintained the lead on the restart and led the majority of the race thereafter, but was ultimately powerless to prevent two cars from passing him on the run to Turn 1 three laps from the finish.

Seventh in race three brought Esteban’s total for the weekend to 48 points, and means he is now the best-placed Honda driver in the standings in fifth.

Nestor started race two from pole and, despite losing ground when he was hit at the start, was on course to score another top-five finish before his race weekend came to an untimely end.

Having started the final lap fourth, Nestor was attempting to defend his position on the run out of Turn 1 when he was tagged from behind. That sent his car out of control at high speed into the inside barrier, with a hefty impact sending the car airborne briefly.

Nestor was taken to the medical centre and checked over before being sent to a local hospital, but was discharged on Sunday evening and returned to the track.

Race two also marked the end of the weekend for ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport driver Attila Tassi.

Attila made a good getaway from 11th on the grid, but was part of a four-car, side-by-side battle on the run to Turn 2 that ultimately ended his race.

Tapped from behind, Attila was a passenger as he made slight contact with one car on the inside, before a bigger hit with another to his left that took both cars out.

Despite the disappointment of his early finish, Attila was still able to reflect on a strong showing in race one.

Starting 16th, Attila was one of only two drivers to make the bold choice of picking full slicks on a damp but drying track. The Hungarian dropped back at the start, but brought his Honda Civic Type R TCR to life in the second half of the race as conditions continued to improve, rising to 11th by the finish.

Tiago Monteiro was another frustrated driver, as yet another race weekend failed to go to plan.

The Portuguese, who sacrificed his qualifying to tow the rest of the Münnich drivers, felt comfortable with his car in the mixed conditions of race one as he finished 13th, then registered a ninth-place finish in race two after fighting his way back up the order and avoiding trouble.

However, Tiago retired two laps from the finish of the final race with radiator damage while again running in the points.

The Münnich Motorsport teams now face a tight turnaround, with the Hungaroring hosting the fourth round of the WTCR season next weekend.

Esteban Guerrieri #86 – ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport : « It has been a very intense day. We have discussed the situation in race one with Nestor, it was a bit of a misunderstanding and we will work on it internally to improve. I think leading much of the race then finishing third in race two, considering the difference of performance to the two cars ahead that was easy to see, was a good result. Race three was a bit of the same; I got a good start, then just tried not to get involved in any kind of fight. Three solid finishes sounds quite positive, but obviously from the team point of view there is one car that is destroyed and another that requires some work to fix. As a team we will keep being strong together for the next events. »

Nestor Girolami #29 – ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport : « First of all, I am OK, which is the most important thing in any incident like this. It was a really big impact and obviously the car was heavily damaged, so the fact that I was able to return to the circuit this evening is testament to the safety level JAS Motorsport has achieved with the Honda Civic Type R TCR and also the preparation from ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, so big thanks to them both. The incident itself was a big disappointment; I had already been hit by the same driver at the start of the race, so I really thought he would take more care in that situation. It also puts us on the back foot as we have very little time to prepare for the next round, but we will come back fighting. »

Attila Tassi #9 – ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport : « Today was a bit of a pity, because the weekend has not gone as planned. In race one I spent the first laps struggling for rear grip, but I was searching for it all race and in the last few laps it came good. As for the race two incident, I didn’t know until afterwards that we were four wide – and going two-wide through Turn 2 is almost impossible anyway. I tried to keep as much space as possible for the cars either side of me but got a small hit from behind; I tried to save it but at that speed the car just snapped. Despite that disappointment, I want to say a big thanks to ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport, as they did an amazing job yesterday repairing the car after qualifying. The damage was not so big, but still there was some work to do. »

Tiago Monteiro #18 – ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport : « In race one I felt really comfortable with the slick/wet tyre combination, and it was good to feel like we were much faster than the people around us, but in the end when you start outside the top 10 it’s difficult. Race two ended up being my best result – despite dropping to the back at the start, I made some good overtakes and took advantage of some incidents. I was really worried about Nestor’s crash, so I’m glad he’s fine and that the car has proved to be very safe. Race three was a reversal of fortunes really – I had a really good start, but then under braking somebody touched another car, which touched me, so I had to take avoiding action. We did our best, but in the end I had to retire with radiator damage. A frustrating weekend for many reasons. We need to work on some things, but hopefully we also get a change of luck as well. »

Dominik Greiner – Team Manager – Münnich Motorsport : « Frustrating is definitely the word to describe this weekend, although we are of course pleased with Esteban’s hard-fought podium. The most important message though is that Nestor is well after his big impact in race two. He was checked at the medical centre at the track, and taken to the local hospital nearby, but was back at the circuit by the evening. Our boys have already started working to prepare the new car for the next race in Hungary next weekend; there’s some big, big work for them to do with that and the repair of Attila’s car. »

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