Race review: Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship, Rounds 9 and 10 of 12 Circuito da Guia, 12 July
Mikel Azcona became the seventh Pre-season Esports WTCR winner as a virtual Circuito da Guia in Macau delivered two incident-filled races on Sunday night with Eurosport and other channels around the world broadcasting the dramatic action.
Starting from the DHL Pole Position, Spaniard Azcona (CUPRA Racing) took the Race 1 victory ahead of Yann Ehrlacher (Cyan Racing Lynk & Co) and Honda-powered Argentine Néstor Girolami (ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport).
Hungary’s original gamer-turned-racer, Norbert Michelisz, scored his second Pre-season Esports WTCR win in Race 2 for BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse, beating podium newcomers Thed Björk (Cyan Performance Lynk & Co) and Tiago Monteiro (ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport) to victory as the unforgiving nature of the Macau’s legendary street track contributed to a spate of accidents that depleted the highly-competitive field.
The Sepang International Circuit is the setting for the deciding races on 19 July, which Frenchman Ehrlacher will start with a nine-point advantage over Michelisz. Azcona is up to third, 17 points down on Ehrlacher. But previous leader Esteban Guerrieri faces an almost impossible title task after he was eliminated in a multi-car crash in Race 2. He’s now down to fifth in the table, 27 points adrift.
Macau’s action-packed double-header will be replayed on the WTCR’s social media channels from 09h00 CET on Monday (13 July).
RESULTS AT A GLANCE
1 Mikel Azcona (Spain) CUPRA Racing CUPRA Leon Competición
2 Yann Ehrlacher (France) Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 03 TCR
3 Néstor Girolami (Argentina) ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR
DHL Pole: Mikel Azcona (Spain) CUPRA Racing CUPRA Leon Competición
Fastest lap: Mikel Azcona (Spain) CUPRA Racing CUPRA Leon Competición
1 Norbert Michelisz (Hungary) BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse Hyundai i30 N TCR
2 Thed Björk (Sweden) Cyan Performance Lynk & Co 03 TCR
3 Tiago Monteiro (Portugal) ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR
DHL Pole: Thed Björk (Sweden) Cyan Performance Lynk & Co 03 TCR
Fastest lap: Mikel Azcona (Spain) CUPRA Racing CUPRA Leon Competición
Lap 1: Azcona doesn’t squander his DHL Pole Position but there’s trouble behind on the run to Lisboa, the notoriously narrow right-hander. Coronel and Comte clash, Monteiro is caught up in the Melee, striking the barriers on the right-hand side. Michelisz is also involved but continues with damage, while Priaulx is unable to avoid crashing into Monteiro’s stationary Honda.
Lap 2: Guerrieri snatches seventh from Boldizs at Lisboa. Azcona looks comfortable in front from Ehrlacher and Girolami.
Lap 3: As Girolami goes defensive into Lisboa, Ehrlacher is able to edge clear in second, Homola and Langeveld close up to fourth-placed Tassi.
Lap 4: Homola passes Tassi on the run up the mountain, Priaulx and Comte battle for P11.
Lap 5: Priaulx pulls over with a mechanical issue. Tassi pressures Homola.
Lap 1: Starting on the revere-grid pole, Björk doesn’t falter and leads through the Reservoir and Mandarin sweeps. But he can’t keep Michelisz behind with the Hungarian slithering through at Lisboa. Guerrieri tries to demote Björk but, with the move not on, he holds back. Unflustered, Björk closes up to Michelisz, while Guerrieri is in full hassle mode behind the Swede. Björk nudges the wall and goes sideways, Guerrieri strikes the barriers in avoidance. Guerrieri then strikes the barriers at Police and spins across the track, briefly becoming airborne after inadvertent contact from Girolami and Langeveld. Girolami hits the wall as Guerrieri regains control. With the field bunched up there’s further contact heading to Moorish as Tassi hits Guerrieri into Girolami. Girolami then strikes Langeveld, whose Audi briefly takes off on the right-hander. Girolami, Guerrieri and Tassi are out, Langeveld’s Audi is stranded.
Lap 2: Azcona, from P10 on the grid, is up to third behind leader Michelisz with Björk closing up.
Lap 3: Azcona closes on Björk but drops back when the strikes the barriers on the inside of the Melco Hairpin, the Spaniard’s line just too tight for the super-tight turn.
Lap 4: Ehrlacher passes Boldizs on the charge to Lisboa, Ehrlacher attempts to repass but fails, which allows Comte to get ahead. Ehrlacher closes up to Monteiro, Azcona is back behind Björk but a steering issue leaves his CUPRA stranded against the barriers on the exit of Melco. With nowhere to go, Monteiro ploughs into the Spaniard but makes it through, as do Comte and Boldizs. Ehrlacher also hits Azcona’s stricken car, which is now pointing in the right direction. Ceccon is also caught up in the incident. Azcona gets going again in front of Priaulx.
Lap 5: Despite starting P12, Monteiro takes third behind winner Michelisz and Björk.
THE WINNERS SAID WHAT?
Mikel Azcona (Race 1): “I’m sweeting a lot, like in reality! A good race, I could make the gap between Ehrlacher and me, so since the first lap I had a small gap and I felt comfortable, but I stayed focus and tried to do no mistake, which is so easy here. On one lap I felt Yann catch me some tenths, but the next lap I tried to push to the maximum. I’m very happy with this win. It’s special in Macau, very difficult.”
Norbert Michelisz (Race 2): “Yeah, but I have to say Thed was really fair in the beginning. He braked early, he wanted to avoid to go wide and crash into the wall, I realised there was a chance to overtake, but in the end the race was mayhem! I saw the other guys crashing behind, so I was also a bit lucky… Starting on the front row in Macau is always the place you want to be at, to avoid chaos, I think I was lucky having that.”
Race 1 (12 minutes, 6 laps):
1 Mikel Azcona (ESP), CUPRA Racing, CUPRA Leon Competición, 12m37.254s
2 Yann Ehrlacher (FRA), Cyan Racing Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR +2.504s
3 Néstor Girolami (ARG), ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R TCR +4.902s
4 Mato Homola (SVK), BRC Racing Team, Hyundai i30 N TCR +6.591s
5 Attila Tassi (HUN), ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R TCR +6.961s
6 Niels Langeveld (NLD), Comtoyou Team Audi Sport, Audi RS 3 LMS +8.007s
7 Esteban Guerrieri (ARG), ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R TCR +8.108s
8 Bence Boldizs (HUN), Zengo Motorsport, CUPRA Leon Competición +13.375s
9 Kevin Ceccon (ITA), Team Mulsanne, Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR +17.222s
10 Thed Björk (SWE), Cyan Performance Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR +18.461s
Race 2 (12 minutes, 6 laps):
1 Norbert Michelisz (HUN), BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse, Hyundai i30 N TCR, 12m36.261s
2 Thed Björk (SWE), Cyan Performance Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR +2.869s
3 Tiago Monteiro (PRT), ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR +11.753s
4 Aurélien Comte (FRA), DG Sport Compétition Peugeot 308TCR +11.931s
5 Bence Boldizs (HUN), Zengo Motorsport, CUPRA Leon Competición +13.187s
6 Kevin Ceccon (ITA), Team Mulsanne, Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR +16.195s
7 Yann Ehrlacher (FRA), Cyan Racing Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR +16.312s
8 Andy Priaulx (GBR), Cyan Performance Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR +23.205s
9 Mikel Azcona (ESP), CUPRA Racing, CUPRA Leon Competición +24.638s
10 Tom Coronel (NLD), Comtoyou Team Audi Sport, Audi RS 3 LMS +36.994s
PROVISIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS AFTER ROUND 10 OF 12:
1 Yann Ehrlacher (France), Cyan Racing Lynk & Co, 157 points
2 Norbert Michelisz (Hungary), BRC N Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse, 148
3 Mikel Azcona (Spain), CUPRA Racing, 140
4 Mato Homola (Slovakia), BRC Racing Team, 131
5 Esteban Guerrieri (Argentina), ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, 130
6 Attila Tassi (Hungary), ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport, 121
7 Néstor Girolami (Argentina), ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, 111
8 Niels Langeveld (Netherlands), Comtoyou Team Audi Sport, 97
9 Bence Boldizs (Hungary), Zengo Motorsport, 88
10 Aurélien Comte (France), DG Sport Compétition, 62
The Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship reaches its climax at a virtual Sepang International Circuit on 19 July with all the action on Eurosport at 23h00 CET, subject to final scheduling.
Missed the action?
Catch the replays on the WTCR’s social media channels from 09h00 CET tomorrow (Monday).
The Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship explained
Held over six weekends until 19 July on the RaceRoom Racing Experience platform, the Pre-season Sports WTCR Championship gives fans the chance to watch virtual WTCR racing with a difference.
All drivers taking part will have a webcam and microphone connected, making it possible for viewers to see and hear their heroes during the races. The microphone feature will also allow drivers to be interviewed as well as interacting with their rivals. Videos of drivers on their simulators, at home and enjoying some fun moments will also be shared during the one-hour shows.
New-for-2020-liveries will be used with six epic tracks, including three that will feature in the real WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup, providing the challenge.
Each Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship event will feature a 10-minute qualifying session followed by a top-five Superpole shootout, which will be included in the official broadcast.
Race 1 will last for 12 minutes with the grid using the combined qualifying results. Race 2 will also last for 12 minutes but with the top 10 qualifying results reversed to form the first five rows of the grid. Cars will appear as they will look when the WTCR begins, as planned, for real later this year.
Making it happen for the fans
Organised to give WTCR drivers the chance to engage with fans through the WTCR’s social media platforms while they wait the start of the 2020 campaign and a prelude to the full Esports WTCR online championship due to begin later this year, the Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship from RaceRoom in partnership with Eurosport Events lists Goodyear, TAG Heuer, DHL, KW Suspensions, TrackTime and Liqui Moly as partners with a TAG Heuer watch going to the champion. The series will promote the FIA’s #RaceAtHome campaign.