Double Points for Honda as the World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) Kicks Off in Morocco

Circuit International Automobile Moulay el Hassan, Morocco April 8-9, 2018

Honda secured a double-points finish as the all-new WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup kicked into action on the streets of Marrakech, Morocco.

Having locked out the top two positions in a damp second practice session, and qualified two cars in the top 10, ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport were confident that their trio of Esteban Guerrieri, James Thompson and Yann Ehrlacher could all deliver points in the season-opener.
RACING-World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) Kicks Off in Morocco-April 08-Race 1-1

Unfortunately for two of them, their hopes were dealt a blow almost immediately.

First Esteban was pushed off at the first corner by Mehdi Bennani and seconds later team-mate James was turned around by Frederic Vervisch, who cannoned into the side of Tom Coronel’s Boutsen Ginion Racing Civic Type R TCR a split-second later.

Esteban’s car sustained damage, but the Argentinian dug deep to finish seventh, which became sixth after Bennani had been penalized 10 seconds for his indiscretion. His closest challenger for the position was Frenchman Yann, who avoided the opening-lap chaos to finish on Esteban’s tail.

James, who was able to regain the circuit with a loss of several positions, finished 14th, but matched his team-mates’ laptimes for most of the race.

James Thompson

James Thompson

For Coronel, who had qualified 16th with a long brake pedal, the contact from Vervisch broke his rear suspension toe-link and cost him two laps as the Boutsen Ginion team repaired the damage to get him back on-track.

He did not finish the race after opting not to risk further damage with a few laps remaining, but his teenage team-mate Benjamin Lessennes, who started 23rd, did reach the checkered flag in 15th after producing an error-free drive that belied the fact that he had never driven on the circuit seven hours previously and had suffered a leak in his braking system during qualifying.

Comments

Esteban Guerrieri | ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport
“It’s a decent start and it’s better to have points than not. From P6 on the grid, I was optimistic of making up ground at the start, but I was hit from behind by Mehdi Bennani, went wide and lost some positions at Turn 1. The damage I sustained meant that the balance was never quite right for the rest of the race and I was down on power too, so I’m pretty pleased to hold on to P7 ahead of Yann.”

Yann Ehrlacher | ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport
“I started from P12 so I have to be pleased with P8 because overtaking is very difficult here on this tight street circuit. At the start I managed to avoid the chaos and made up a lot of positions and after that I could stay with Esteban, who seemed to have an issue with his car. I can see there are some gains we can make for tomorrow so I’m confident of an even better result to gain some more points for myself and the team.”

Erlacher

Yann Ehrlacher

James Thompson | ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport
“I’m pleased with the pace I’ve shown not just in the race, but all day. I started P10 and was confident of scoring points. Unfortunately, some people went a bit crazy at the start. Frederic Vervisch hit me and then kept his foot on the power once the contact was made, which stopped me from being able to get the car straight. I finished P14, but on times, my pace was as good as Esteban and Yann in the race, so that puts me in a good position for tomorrow’s races.”

Race1

Rank   Driver (Machine)

1          Gabriele Tarquini(Hyundai i30 N TCR)

2          Thed Bjork(Hyundai i30 N TCR)

3          Rob Huff(Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR)

4          Jean-Karl Vemay(Audi RS3 LMS)

5          Gordon Shedden(Audi RS3 LMS)

6          Esteban Guerrieri(Honda Civic TCR)

7          Yann Ehrlacher(Honda Civic TCR)

14         James Thompson(Honda Civic TCR)

15         Benjamin Lessennes(Honda Civic TCR)

21         Tom Coronel(Honda Civic TCR)

RACES TWO and THREE

Two Fourth-place Finishes for Honda in Morocco

Yann Ehrlacher gave the Honda Civic Type R TCR two excellent fourth-place finishes to close out the opening round of the 2018 WTCR FIA World Touring Car Cup at the Moulay el Hassan Circuit in Marrakech, Morocco.

From sixth on Race Two’s partially-reversed grid, Ehrlacher avoided some wheel-banging at the first corner to move up to fourth and finished less than a second away from the podium. He repeated the result later on and holds fifth in the Drivers’ Championship.

Yann Ehrlacher

Yann Ehrlacher

His British team-mate James Thompson, who returned to the cockpit of a racing car for the first time in 18 months, was an excellent eighth in qualifying, which put him third on the grid for Race Two.

Unfortunately, he was squeezed against the pit exit at the start and was forced to lift to avoid an accident. That dropped him back from second place to seventh and he eventually finished sixth. Another strong eighth place in Race Three leaves him 11th in the Drivers’ standings.

After being the highest-placed Münnich car in Race One, Esteban Guerrieri did well to climb to eighth in Race Two, having qualified 13th. He was making strong progress in Race Three when he was pitched into the wall at Turn 12 by John Filippi while the pair battled.

Esteban is 10th in the points standings while INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport are fifth in the Teams’ table and just a handful of points away from the top three.

Esteban Guerrieri

Esteban Guerrieri

Tom Coronel scored his first point of the season in Race Two with a consistent drive in his Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda to 10th. He then missed out on a repeat result by less than a second in Race Three as he continually reeled in the cars ahead of him in the latter stages of the race.

He finished 12th and lies 15th in the Drivers’ table with Boutsen Ginion Racing eighth in the Teams’ points on their debut weekend of World Touring Car action.

Team-mate Benjamin Lessennes; the youngest driver in the field at just 18 years of age, had another tough day. After starting Race Two from 16th place, the Belgian made impressive progress to climb to 12th.

Unfortunately, his race was ruined by Filippi, who turned him into the wall at Turn 11. The damage was heavy enough that the team were unable to fix it within repair time, forcing him to start Race Three from the pitlane. He drove a solid race to finish 17th.

Comments

Yann Ehrlacher | ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport
“I finished fourth twice so of course I’m happy. I was very pleased with my start in Race Two as I went around the outside of the mess and went up from sixth to fourth and my pace was good enough to hold on to the cars in front of me in both races. Yesterday I wasn’t so happy with qualifying, but the team did a great job to get the car working better for me and I had the confidence to push harder and make Q3. Everything worked out very well from that point.”

James Thompson | ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport
“Two weeks ago I wasn’t even planning on racing this year, so to come away from my first weekend in a TCR Honda and have strong top-10 finishes is brilliant. I’ve become more and more comfortable as the weekend has gone on, and that’s been reflected in my pace. I could see my way to the front in Race Two, but I was squeezed into the pit exit by Pepe Oriola and I chose to lift, rather than cause an accident, and that lost me some ground. I’m looking forward to Hungary.”

James Thompson

James Thompson

Esteban Guerrieri | ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport
“Today really highlights just how competitive WTCR is going to be this year. If I’d made Q2 then I could have been on the front row for Race Two, but instead I missed it by three hundredths and had a tough day. I’m pleased to finish in the points in Race Two from 12th on the grid and to make some nice overtaking moves on a circuit where it’s very difficult. My start in Race Three wasn’t so good, but then I got Filippi’d and that was that.”

FIA World Touring Car Cup 2018

Round 01: Morocco

Race 2

Rank   Driver (Machine)

1          Jean-Karl Vernay(Audi RS3 LMS)

2          Mehdi Bennani(Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR)

3          Pepe Oriola(Cupra TCR)

4          Yann Ehrlacher(Honda Civic TCR)

5          Thed Björk(Hyundai i30 N TCR)

6          James Thompson(Honda Civic TCR)

8          Esteban Guerrieri(Honda Civic TCR)

10         Tom Coronel(Honda Civic TCR)

21         Benjamin Lessennes(Honda Civic TCR)

Race 3

Rank   Driver (Machine)

1          Gabriele Tarquini(Hyundai i30 N TCR)

2          Yvan Muller(Hyundai i30 N TCR)

3          Thed Björk(Hyundai i30 N TCR)

4          Yann Ehrlacher(Honda Civic TCR)

5          Norbert Michelisz(Hyundai i30 N TCR)

6          Mehdi Bennani(Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR)

8          James Thompson(Honda Civic TCR)

12         Tom Coronel(Honda Civic TCR)

14         Esteban Guerrieri(Honda Civic TCR)

17         Benjamin Lessennes(Honda Civic TCR)