Inspired Goodyear tyre choice reignited the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup title battle in Race 1 at WTCR Race of Aragón, as Néstor Girolami gifted ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport team-mate Esteban Guerrieri a priceless victory at a sunny but super-slippery MotorLand Aragón.
The Honda-powered team’s decision to run wet Goodyear tyres on the rear and slicks on the front of Girolami and Guerrieri’s Honda Civic Type R TCRs gave them a significant grip advantage to rise from P11 and P16 on the grid respectively to claim an incredible team one-two.
Goodyear #FollowTheLeader Yann Ehrlacher finished sixth from fifth on the grid in his Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 03 TCR, which cuts his advantage to just 16 points ahead of Race 2.
“Thanks for Néstor for the points – it’s his win,” said Guerrieri, who only took the lead on the last lap when his team-mate slowed to allow him ahead. “Going from the pits to the grid it was sunny, but there is some humidity here and the track was still wet and doesn’t dry quickly. We gambled because we had nothing to lose. We knew we were slow yesterday and don’t have the tools or weapons to fight, but this worked well.”
Girlolami said: “We made the right decision in the right moment. When the sun is coming out it’s not easy to take that decision. My first lap was awesome!”
Ehrlacher was circumspect about the race. “It was really difficult,” he said. “Honda made a different tyre choice – and it was right apparently.”
From the moment the lights went out at the start, it was clear how little grip there was on the track as DHL Pole Position starter Santiago Urrutia struggled to maintain his lead in his Cyan Performance Lynk & Co. After a hectic first lap, Girolami had risen from P11 to the lead and quickly opened a gap to Nathanaël Berthon and Gilles Magnus in their Comtoyou Audis – who had also chosen wet Goodyears for the rears.
While Guerrieri and Girolami claimed the top two positions, WTCR Rookie Award winner Magnus passed Berthon to finish third, ahead of local hero Mikel Azcona in his Zengő Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición. Ehrlacher was next, ahead of his uncle and team-mate Yvan Muller.
Jean-Karl Vernay described the conditions as “undrivable” on slicks in his Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR by Romeo Ferraris, as he slipped from second on the grid to eighth at the flag. He was just ahead of the disappointed Urrutia, who is still chasing his first WTCR victory. Attila Tassi, the only one of the Hondas to run slicks all round, completed the top 10.
The other points finishers were Thed Björk in P11, despite being spun around by Luca Filippi, Tom Coronel (Audi) in P12, Luca Engstler (Hyundai), Aurélien Comte (Vuković Motorsport Renault Mégane RS TCR) and Gabriele Tarquini (Hyundai).
Tiago Monteiro retired from P10 on the penultimate lap after hitting a tyre stack and losing a wheel from his Honda. His incident could have led to the deployment of the Honda safety car, which would have prevented Girolami and Guerrieri from switching positions.