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Opening Race flash: Ehrlacher’s maiden WTCC win

Opening Race flash: Ehrlacher’s maiden WTCC win

16/07/2017 20:45

Yann Erhlacher scored his first FIA World Touring Car Championship victory at WTCC Race of Argentina after winner-on-the-road Tom Chilton was penalised for the move that gave him the lead.

Erhlacher was starting from his first career pole position and held on to the lead at the start at the 4.806-kilometre Circuito Termas de Río Hondo. But Sébastien Loeb Racing’s Chilton, who started beside Erhlacher on the reverse-grid front row, tapped the RC Motorsport driver on the first lap to take first place.

Chilton opened up a gap and looked certain to win, until he was handed a five-second penalty for the move. Ehrlacher had defended brilliantly from a train of cars to hang on to second on the road and inherited a hard-won victory.

“It’s amazing, I can’t believe it!” said Ehrlacher, the 21-year-old nephew of four-time WTCC champion Yvan Muller. “I had a little hit by Tom at the beginning, then I just pushed a lot because everyone was pushing hard behind me. A win’s a win – I’ll take it!”

Chilton’s penalty dropped him to fourth behind Sébastien Loeb Racing team-mate Mehdi Bennani in second place and local hero Esteban Guerrieri in his Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1. Championship leader Tiago Monteiro just missed out on claiming fourth by 0.1s after Chilton’s penalty and had to settle for fifth in his Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team Civic.

Polestar Cyan Racing had a nightmare race. The three Volvo S60s were running almost as one early on in fifth, sixth and seventh. But Nicky Catsburg’s race ended with a puncture, while Argentine Nestor Girolami suffered heartbreak in his home race when his Volvo stopped out on the circuit with an electrical issue. That left Thed Björk, who lies second in the title standings, as the best of the S60s in sixth.

Norbert Michelisz was another regular frontrunner to suffer disappointment. The Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team driver, who won the previous WTCC race in Vila Real, picked up a puncture on the first lap after contact with team-mate Monteiro.

Elsewhere, Rob Huff moved up from P12 on the grid to seventh, John Filippi took eighth with Tom Coronel and Ryo Michigami completing the point scorers from the back of the grid following an engine-change penalty overnight. Kevin Gleason, Daniel Nagy, Zsolt David Szabo and Michelisz rounded out the classified finishers.

The Main Race at WTCC Race of Argentina takes place at 16h15 local time.

Zsolt Dávid Szabó completed his FIA World Touring Car Championship debut in Argentina last weekend by underlining his desire to return to the track when WTCC 2017 resumes in China in mid-October.

Yann Ehrlacher was applauded and praised by his rivals following his maiden FIA World Touring Car Championship victory.

Mehdi Bennani reckoned he over-achieved at WTCC Race of Argentina by scoring his third podium of 2017 to remain firmly in the hunt for the FIA World Touring Car Championship.

Four-time WTCC champion Yvan Muller isn’t surprised that his nephew, Yann Ehrlacher, is a winner in the FIA World Touring Car Championship – revealing that he always expected the 21-year-old would reach the top of the podium.

The chase for WTCC Trophy title success intensified when the FIA World Touring Car Championship visited Argentina last week.

Esteban Guerrieri used his home rounds of the FIA World Touring Car Championship to deliver one of his best weekends in the WTCC so far with a third and a fourth in the two races at Circuito Termas de Río Hondo.