Gilles Magnus scored his first victory in the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup after leading Race 1 at WTCR Race of Hungary all the way from pole position.
Driving a Goodyear-equipped, second-generation Audi RS 3 LMS, the Comtoyou Team Audi Sport driver headed team-mate Frédéric Vervisch for most of the race at the Hungaroring, until Mikel Azcona forced his way past on the last lap to claim second. Yann Ehrlacher also passed Vervisch in the scramble to claim a podium and assume his new status as Goodyear #FollowTheLeader.
The race had earlier been interrupted by the intervention of the Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition safety car after Saturday’s top qualifier Rob Huff broke his front left suspension by clipping a tyre stack at the chicane.
“The start was going to be crucial,” said Magnus, who made the perfect getaway from his reverse-grid pole position to become the seventh different winner in as many races. “After that the pressure fell away. I have to thank Fred for his work because Azcona was coming fast. I wanted this first win and finally my dream has come true.”
While Magnus and Vervisch made it to Turn 1 without a problem, fifth-placed starter Azcona made contact with the back of Yvan Muller’s Lynk & Co under braking, which knocked the Frenchman into a spin. Later in the lap Santiago Urrutia nudged Tiago Monteiro’s ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport Honda out of Turn 3 during a frenetic opener.
As the two Audis led the way, Azcona pressured Ehrlacher for third, the King of WTCR incurring a black and white warning flag for violating track limits as he worked to keep the Spaniard behind him. Thed Björk was running fifth ahead of local hero Norbert Michelisz and Huff’s Zengő Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición.
Azcona moved past Ehrlacher as Huff’s race unravelled when he lightly clipped the tyre stack with only the faintest of touches on lap seven. But it was enough to damage his suspension and leave his Cupra stranded on the circuit, enforcing a safety car interlude while it was recovered.
When the green flags flew on lap 12 of an extended race distance of 14, Vervisch did a great job of holding back the pack as Magnus escaped to secure his victory. But Vervisch was unable to deliver a Comtoyou 1-2 as Azcona and then Ehrlacher got by in a thrilling climax. Vervisch finished fourth, ahead of Björk, Michelisz and Urrutia.
Esteban Guerrieri claimed eighth in his Honda, up from 12th on the grid, ahead of team-mates Néstor Girolami and Monteiro who completed the top 10.
Luca Engstler scored points in P11 ahead of fellow Hyundai driver Gabriele Tarquini and another local hero Attila Tassi. Jean-Karl Vernay climbed to P14 after starting in P16, but it wasn’t enough to keep his points lead. New Goodyear #FollowTheLeader Ehrlacher now holds a six-point advantage ahead of Race 2.
Muller recovered from his first-corner spin to finish as the final points scorer in P15 as local driver Bence Boldizs finished second to Magnus in the WTCR Trophy. Wildcard Nicola Baldan finished one place further back ahead of the Bäckman siblings Andreas and Jessica, Baldan’s Target Competition team-mates.
Along with Huff, Nathanaël Berthon was another non-finisher after retiring to the pits. The Frenchman had just incurred a 10-second time penalty for making contact with Tassi and Vernay at the chicane.