WTCR Estoril: Tassi becomes youngest winner as loose bonnet costs Monteiro

Attila Tassi saved Honda’s blushes to score his first World Touring Car Cup victory after a loose bonnet cost Tiago Monteiro what had looked like a certain home win at Estoril.

WTCR Estoril: Tassi becomes youngest winner as loose bonnet costs Monteiro

Munnich Motorsport’s quartet of Civic Type Rs had qualified 1-2-3-5 on Saturday, but the team’s weekend unravelled over the course of two eventful races on Sunday.

In the reverse-grid race one, Nestor Girolami triggered a first-corner multi-car collision that left him with heavy front-end damage. The team was forced to break parc ferme rules to repair the Honda, so Girolami started the second race at the back instead of from third on the grid.

Then Argentine countryman Esteban Guerrieri blew his race two pole position by making a disastrous getaway, blaming a distraction caused by his engine’s anti-lag system for his slow start that left Monteiro clear to take the lead.

The former Jordan grand prix driver led comfortably, negotiating a safety car restart caused by Mikel Azcona pushing Tom Coronel off on lap one – but then became unstuck when the front-right corner of his bonnet flapped open. He was shown the black and orange flag and was forced to pit, thereby losing not only victory but the WTCR points lead he had earned with a solid fourth place from ninth on the grid in race one.

Tassi then faced down a trio of Hyundais that chased him home over the final five laps. At 22, the Hungarian becomes the youngest WTCR race winner.

“It was a mega race,” said Tassi. “First of all I’m really sorry for Esteban and even more for Tiago. But it’s déjà vu. Two years ago at Vila Real it was the same, but the other way around,” referencing a race at the Portuguese street track in 2019, when he’d been forced to retire from the lead and which Monteiro then won.

“This is my first win in WTCR and I’m very happy, but it should have been two years ago. But what happens comes around.”

Start action, Yann Ehrlacher, Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR leads

Start action, Yann Ehrlacher, Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR leads

Photo by: WTCR

Vernay’s Engstler Hyundai Elantra N TCR headed the chase of Tassi from Norbert Michelisz and Gabriele Tarquini. Second place for the Frenchman earned him back the WTCR points lead he’d lost to Monteiro in race one, when he’d incurred a puncture in the first-corner corner contact caused by Girolami. The Honda had piled into the back of Michelisz, who was also forced out of the race by the incident.

Reigning champion Yann Ehrlacher won the reverse grid encounter after beating polesitter Tarquini to turn one. The Italian picked up a puncture caused by debris, which allowed Ehrlacher’s uncle Yvan Muller and Santiago Urrutia to make it a Lynk & Co 1-2-3, just days after parent company Geely had publicly criticised WTCR organiser Eurosport Events for its Balance of Performance management.

All four of the Chinese cars finished in the top 10 in race two, despite appearing to lack straightline speed. Urrutia was fifth, Ehrlacher sixth, Thed Bjork seventh and Muller ninth.

Rob Huff, who has returned to the WTCR this year in a Zengo Motorsport Cupra Leon Competicion, scored a pair of 10th place finishes in the two races.

Race 1 results

Cla Driver Chassis Laps Gap
1 France Yann Ehrlacher Lynk & Co 15  
2 France Yvan Muller Lynk & Co 15 1.746
3 Uruguay Santiago Urrutia Lynk & Co 15 3.411
4 Portugal Tiago Monteiro Honda 15 4.960
5 Argentina Esteban Guerrieri Honda 15 5.369
6 Spain Mikel Azcona CUPRA 15 8.220
7 Hungary Attila Tassi Honda 15 8.650
8 Sweden Thed Björk Lynk & Co 15 10.848
9 Belgium Gilles Magnus Audi 15 14.088
10 United Kingdom Rob Huff CUPRA 15 16.651
11 France Nathanael Berthon Audi 15 19.214
12 Germany Luca Engstler Hyundai 15 19.360
13 Belgium Frederic Vervisch Audi 15 21.118
14 Spain Jordi Gene CUPRA 15 22.500
15 Sweden Andreas Bäckman Hyundai 15 25.079
16 Jessica Bäckman Hyundai 15 26.858
17 Netherlands Tom Coronel Audi 15 27.690
18 Bence Boldizs CUPRA 14 1 Lap
  Italy Gabriele Tarquini Hyundai 10 5 Laps
  Hungary Norbert Michelisz Hyundai 6 9 Laps
  France Jean-Karl Vernay Hyundai 2 13 Laps
  Argentina Nestor Girolami Honda 0  

Race 2 results

Cla Driver Chassis Laps Gap
1 Hungary Attila Tassi Honda 16  
2 France Jean-Karl Vernay Hyundai 16 1.030
3 Hungary Norbert Michelisz Hyundai 16 1.553
4 Italy Gabriele Tarquini Hyundai 16 2.165
5 Uruguay Santiago Urrutia Lynk & Co 16 7.814
6 France Yann Ehrlacher Lynk & Co 16 8.757
7 Sweden Thed Björk Lynk & Co 16 11.661
8 Argentina Esteban Guerrieri Honda 16 14.586
9 France Yvan Muller Lynk & Co 16 16.465
10 United Kingdom Rob Huff CUPRA 16 19.010
11 Belgium Frederic Vervisch Audi 16 20.807
12 France Nathanael Berthon Audi 16 22.168
13 Argentina Nestor Girolami Honda 16 22.426
14 Belgium Gilles Magnus Audi 16 22.588
15 Spain Jordi Gene CUPRA 16 29.028
16 Jessica Bäckman Hyundai 16 36.145
17 Sweden Andreas Bäckman Hyundai 16 37.342
18 Portugal Tiago Monteiro Honda 16 1'02.081
19 Bence Boldizs CUPRA 14 2 Laps
  Germany Luca Engstler Hyundai 10 6 Laps
  Spain Mikel Azcona CUPRA 8 8 Laps
  Netherlands Tom Coronel Audi 0  
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