Race report

WTCR Bahrain: Michelisz wins race 2 as Azcona closes in on title

Norbert Michelisz came from seventh on the partially reversed grid to win the World Touring Car Cup's second Bahrain race, as BRC Hyundai team-mate Mikel Azcona closed on the title.

Norbert Michelisz, BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse, Hyundai Elantra N TCR

Michelisz survived a chaotic first lap to chase Esteban Guerrieri, who led out of Turn 1 after a strong start from the second row. The Hyundai was clearly quicker than the Munnich Motorsport Honda, which was carrying 40kg of compensation weight, and on lap five Michelisz sliced inside Guerrieri at Turn 1 to take what would be his first win of the season.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Michelisz. “I was a bit lucky after the start, there was some carnage. I managed to overtake some people there and I was just trying to find the right place to attack Esteban.

“My car was just brilliant again today, all weekend it was, so big credit to the team. Sometimes it looks easy from the outside but it was not easy today. Although it was a bit easier because of the equipment I had!

“It’s not been an easy season, but now I’m getting things together.”

“Congrats to Norbi, he did a very good job,” said Guerrieri. “To the Hyundai team as well, very good weekend. To my team also, we did all we could. Pretty happy.

"Obviously disappointed to lose the lead, but they had a better pace this weekend. He surprised me with a very good move, I was not very confident in the brakes. It’s been a while since I had a podium.”

Nicky Catsburg scored a podium third in his Hyundai, on his return to the WTCR.

“Man, it’s so hot in these cars,” he said. “Every time I come back in a WTCR car I realise it’s like a sauna in there. Very hot but super-happy to have a podium on my Wildcard event, so let’s hope for even better in Jeddah.”

Norbert Michelisz, BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse, Hyundai Elantra N TCR, Esteban Guerrieri, ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R TCR

Norbert Michelisz, BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse, Hyundai Elantra N TCR, Esteban Guerrieri, ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R TCR

Photo by: WTCR

Azcona avoided trouble on lap one to initially run in sixth, passed title rival Nestor Girolami and then tracked Nathanael Berthon. The Frenchman had picked up a five-second penalty amid the chaos, so Azcona didn’t need to pass the Audi to secure his fourth place. Tom Coronel finished sixth behind his team-mate Berthon.

Front row starters Franco Girolami and Mehdi Bennani finished seventh and eighth after good recoveries from disastrous first laps.

Pole position starter Bennani was second into Turn 4 when Comtoyou team-mate Gilles Magnus barged into him under braking. Meanwhile, Franco Girolami – younger brother of Nestor – was tapped into a spin by the Engstler Honda of Attila Tassi.

As for Nestor Girolami, he struggled for pace and was left battling Bennani in the closing stages. He put up a spirited defence, but couldn’t stop the Audi powering past out of Turn 10 on the last lap.

Girolami’s ninth place leaves him 60 points down on Azcona with only 65 left on the table ahead of the Jeddah finale.

WTCR Bahrain race 2 results - 13 laps

Cla Driver Chassis Time Gap
1 Hungary Norbert Michelisz Hyundai -  
2 Argentina Esteban Guerrieri Honda 1.046 1.046
3 Netherlands Nick Catsburg Hyundai 3.677 3.677
4 Spain Mikel Azcona Hyundai 7.811 7.811
5 France Nathanael Berthon   12.637 12.637
6 Netherlands Tom Coronel   13.958 13.958
7 Franco Girolami   15.776 15.776
8 Morocco Mehdi Bennani   24.353 24.353
9 Argentina Nestor Girolami Honda 24.739 24.739
10 Hungary Daniel Nagy CUPRA 24.975 24.975
11 Bence Boldizs CUPRA 25.616 25.616
12 Portugal Tiago Monteiro Honda 27.266 27.266
13 Viktor Davidovski   2 laps  
14 Hungary Attila Tassi Honda 8 laps  
15 Belgium Gilles Magnus   13 laps  
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