BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse driver Norbert Michelisz scored a measured win in Race 1 at WTCR Race of Germany, passing Nürburgring Nordschleife DHL pole-sitter Esteben Guerrieri at the first turn and maintaining his advantage thereafter.
WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO points leader Guerreri was beaten off the line by Michelisz’s Hyundai i30 N TCR, with the Hungarian driver already ahead when braking for the first corner hairpin.
From there Michelisz built a gap of over a second, ensuring that the slippery Honda Civic Type R TCR couldn’t reel him in with a tow along the long Döttinger Höhe straight at the end of the lap.
Behind, Guerrieri finished well ahead of a titanic scrap over the final podium position, which his ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport team-mate Néstor Girolami recovered to score after falling behind early on.
Initially passed by Frédéric Vervisch on the opening lap, Girolami’s first run to retake third was stumped by a defensive Vervisch along the two-kilometre Döttinger Höhe straight.
With Girolami taking to the grass briefly and both slowing each other down as they jostled for position, both were surprised by Rob Huff’s SLR VW Motorsport machine, which slipstreamed them to take third, though Girolami did manage to pass Vervisch’s Audi RS 3 LMS.
Girolami then managed to pass Huff on the final lap, going wheel-to-wheel down Döttinger Höhe. Huff finished fourth but was somewhat lucky to finish at all, coming to blows with Yvan Muller at turn two on the opening lap. A natural bottleneck effect occurred with the field ploughing into the narrow and slow left-hander, with Huff diving to the inside of Muller and the pair making contact.
Muller’s Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 03 TCR picked up front-left damage that forced him to retire, and also dropped WTCR / OSCARO wildcard entrant Antii Buri (AS Motorsport) to the back, as the Finn was forced to go far off-track to avoid the stricken Muller.
Vervisch led home a tightly packed five-car train to the finish line in fifth place, with the fast-starting Yann Erlacher (Cyan Performance Lynk & Co) right behind in sixth and Nürburgring expert Benjamin Leuchter (SLR Volkswagen) in seventh.
BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team pair Augusto Farfus and Nicky Catsburg both gained places and finished right behind Leuchter in the five-car queue in eighth and ninth, demoting Johan Kristofferson (SLR Volkswagen) to P10 in quick succession on the second of three laps.
Fellow Hyundai i30 N TCR runner Gabriele Tarquini was not so lucky, having initially run fifth and ahead of Huff, he was forced to retire around the halfway mark with a steering issue and continue his non-point-scoring streak at the Nürburgring.
Outside the top 10, a collision at the lap-opening Yokohama-S turn between Gordon Shedden (Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport) and Daniel Haglöf (PWR Racing) forced both drivers to retire. Shedden had attempted a move down the inside but made contact with Haglöf, with both cars picking up damage that meant neither were able to continue.
Johan Kristoffersson scored his first victory in the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO as Rob Huff and Gabriele Tarquini collided in the reverse-grid Race 2.
Two-time FIA World Rallycross champion Kristofferson defended from the DHL Pole Position with determination at the start as wildcard entry and fellow front-row starter Antti Buri challenged. But once he’d established his lead, Kristofferson led all the way around three laps of the 25.378-kilometre Nürburgring Nordschleife.
Kristofferson’s Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR moved to the right from the DHL pole to squeeze Buri’s AS Motorsport Audi RS3 LMS, pushing the Finn into the pitlane exit. The pair fought hard through the opening section of the Grand Prix circuit, which allowed Comtoyou Team Audi Sport’s Frédéric Vervisch to pass Buri in a great move for second place.
Out on to the Nordschleife, as Kristofferson and Vervisch opened gaps at the front of the field, Buri began to slip down the order as he struggled to maintain front-running pace, due to the addition of 20 kilograms of weight under wildcard regulations. He eventually finished in P13.
Volkswagen power won the day at WTCR Race of Germany as Johan Kristoffersson and home hero Benjamin Leuchter took their first victories in the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO for Sébastien Loeb Racing.
Kristoffersson, who switched to WTCR / OSCARO for 2019 as the double FIA World Rallycross champion, claimed the Race 2 laurels – and the TAG Heuer Best Lap Trophy – only to crash out of Race 3 in spectacular fashion while avoiding another incident, thankfully without injury.
Having finished sixth in Race 2, German Leuchter made the most of his DHL Pole Position to win Race 3, making it a trouble for the SLR-run Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR.