Slovakia WTCR: Audi driver Vervisch wins opener from ninth

Comtoyou Audi driver Frederic Vervisch advanced from ninth on the grid to grab his and Audi's first World Touring Car Cup victory of 2019 in the opening Slovakia Ring race

Slovakia WTCR: Audi driver Vervisch wins opener from ninth

Vervisch benefited from a rapid getaway and emerged from a hectic opening lap in second, chasing the fast-starting Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce of Ma Qing Hua.

Once racing resumed after an early safety car, Vervisch kept the pressure on and swept by after a mistake under braking cost Ma the lead on lap four.

Vervisch ran untroubled for the remainder of the race on his way to sealing the first Audi win of the year by 2.8 seconds.

"A great race and great result," said Vervisch. "At Turn 3 I was lucky as I got hit from behind.

"It was just about keeping the pace and we had good pace. [Ma] was quicker on the straights, but I could put him under pressure and he was very fair when I overtook him."

Rain was a threat just before the race, as it had been in Friday qualifying, but it was not enough for drivers to opt for wet tyres as the race was not declared wet.

Ma inherited the lead while polesitter Nicky Catsburg slid wide in the slippery conditions in his efforts to sweep around the outside of the Alfa heading through Turn 1.

After surrendering the lead, Ma came under attack from Norbert Michelisz in the best of the BRC Racing Hyundai i30 N cars.

But the Alfa driver held on despite an attempt around the outside from Michelisz in the closing laps of the race, ensuring Team Mulsanne secured its first podium finish of 2019 with second ahead of Hungarian Michelisz.

Jean-Karl Vernay finished a lonely fourth in his WRT Audi RS3 LMS, having survived a tag in the rear under braking heading into the tight third corner during the opening lap fall-out in tricky conditions.

A hectic tussle for fifth place eventually went the way of Augusto Farfus, who charged through the pack methodically from a lowly 19th place on the grid.

The Brazilian had carved his way into the top 10 before the early safety car, and soon joined a train of cars stacked behind the fifth-placed PWR Racing Seat Cupra of Daniel Haglof.

After slipping by BRC team-mate Catsburg, Farfus out-braked Haglof heading into the first right-hander on lap seven, with Catsburg colliding with Haglof as the pair entered the following straight.

Another Hyundai i30 N finished sixth as reigning champion Gabriele Tarquini fought through from 13th, disposing of Catsburg who fell back to seventh having also clipped a tyre stack.

Tom Coronel (Comtoyou Cupra) was eighth ahead of Mikel Azcona (PWR Racing Cupra), while Luca Engstler's wildcard Hyundai rounded out the top 10 ahead of the best of the Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 03 cars of Yvan Muller.

Championship leader Nestor Girolami failed to finish, after the Munnich Motorsport Honda Civic made contact with the second Comtoyou Audi of Niels Langeveld on a frenetic first lap.

Girolami's Munnich Motorsport team-mate Esteban Guerrieri pitted during the subsequent safety car interruption and could only recover to 15th, while Haglof fell back to 19th after running fifth.

Result - 11 laps

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Frederic Vervisch Comtoyou Audi Audi 26m12.434s
2 Ma Qinghua Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo 2.834s
3 Norbert Michelisz BRC Squadra Corse Hyundai 3.243s
4 Jean-Karl Vernay WRT Audi 7.503s
5 Augusto Farfus BRC Racing Team Hyundai 13.949s
6 Gabriele Tarquini BRC Squadra Corse Hyundai 14.426s
7 Nicky Catsburg BRC Racing Team Hyundai 20.055s
8 Tom Coronel Comtoyou Cupra Cupra 20.274s
9 Mikel Azcona PWR Racing Cupra 20.463s
10 Luca Engstler Team Engstler Hyundai 21.657s
11 Yvan Muller Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 22.328s
12 Gordon Shedden WRT Audi 22.532s
13 Rob Huff SLR VW Motorsport Volkswagen 24.017s
14 Benjamin Leuchter SLR Volkswagen Volkswagen 24.373s
15 Esteban Guerrieri Munnich Motorsport Honda 25.407s
16 Niels Langeveld Comtoyou Audi Audi 26.665s
17 Tiago Monteiro KCMG Honda 26.870s
18 Attila Tassi KCMG Honda 28.405s
19 Daniel Haglof PWR Racing Cupra 29.471s
20 Johan Kristoffersson SLR Volkswagen Volkswagen 29.757s
21 Andy Priaulx Cyan Performance Lynk & Co 30.061s
22 Yann Ehrlacher Cyan Performance Lynk & Co 31.896s
23 Thed Bjork Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 32.145s
- Aurelien Panis Comtoyou Cupra Cupra Retirement
- Mehdi Bennani SLR VW Motorsport Volkswagen Retirement
- Nestor Girolami Munnich Motorsport Honda Retirement
- Kevin Ceccon Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Retirement


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Catsburg takes WTCR Slovakia main race pole for BRC Racing
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