Norbert Michelisz converts the pole into a Race 1 win

Norbert Michelisz converts the pole into a Race 1 win

20 April 2024

Norbert Michelisz fought back from a bad start to secure a first victory of the 2024 Kumho FIA TCR World Tour in Vallelunga, winning Race 1 by two seconds in his BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Elantra ahead of Lynk & Co Cyan Racing’s Yann Ehrlacher in an action-packed race. Esteban Guerrieri completed the podium in his maiden race with GOAT Racing and the Honda Civic FL5.

After heavy rainfall late in the afternoon, the circuit was slight damp but drying fast, with everyone opting to start on slick tyres. Ehrlacher managed to get the jump on pole sitter Michelisz at the start and took the lead into T1, while in his first start behind the wheel of the Hyundai, Néstor Girolami stalled in tenth place and was lucky to be avoided by Sami Taoufik and the Coppa Italia Turismo field behind him.

The fourth-placed Hyundai of Mikel Azcona had also made a bad start dropping behind the Thed Björk; the Spaniard was then pushed into a spin by the GOAT Racing Honda of Marco Butti at T7 and fell behind both Butti and Ma Qing Hua. On lap 2, Butti tried to get past Björk around the outside at T11 but was kept wide by the Swede, which allowed Azcona back ahead and into P5.

At the start of lap 3, Michelisz took the lead of the race down the start-finish straight, as Ehrlacher lost traction on the exit of the final corner, and the Hungarian then began to build a lead. Butti then overtook Azcona on lap 6 and closed in again on Björk, this time passing him at T11 for fourth, with Azcona following him through. Azcona immediately went on the offensive against Butti, passing him at T13, but Butti was able to draft back past the Hyundai driver on the straight and retake fourth place.

Michelisz was now pulling away from Ehrlacher, who was briefly under threat from Guerrieri, but the race then settled down with Michelisz holding on to win by 1.7 seconds ahead of Ehrlacher, with the Frenchman pulling out a further second on Guerrieri by the finish. Butti crossed the line in fourth place ahead of Azcona, but the Stewards then swapped their positions by handing a five-second penalty to the Italian for having pushed his Spanish rival.

Michelisz now leads the drivers’ standings on 45 points, ten points clear of Ehrlacher, with Guerrieri 15 points adrift.

Filippo Barberi was classified tenth and won the Coppa Italia Turismo in his Aikoa Racing Audi RS 3 LMS, while the reigning champion Sandro Pelatti (PMA Motorsport, Audi) kept Jacopo Cimenes (MM Motorsport, Honda Civic) at bay to take second.

The second race of the weekend is scheduled for 14:25 CEST on Sunday (live streaming), with Girolami starting from pole.

Quotes from the podium finishers

Michelisz: “I was a bit worried before the start because my grid position was in the shade and the grip level was not ideal due to the rain before. I was lucky enough to have a decent start and not lose too many positions. Yann did a very good launch and overtook me but then I felt strong and was able to follow him. I tried to study his lines a bit and then waited to make my move.”

Ehrlacher: “Unfortunately I got the start but not the finish. I made a very good start, but I knew the pace would be a problem for us during the race. But at the end of the day we secured a podium, good points... as we managed to save second place. We are very happy about it so let’s focus on tomorrow.”

Guerrieri: “It probably looked easy, but it was pretty tough out there... the conditions were a bit mixed. The start was crucial, and I managed to make it ok to keep my place. I almost lost the car at one point, but I was able to control that. The pace was okay. Maybe not good enough to push and overtake, but I had a good car so in the end it is a long championship and we are there for the points.”

Vallelunga – Race 1

  1. Norbert Michelisz (BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse, Hyundai Elantra N), 15 laps
  2. Yann Ehrlacher (Lynk & Co Cyan Racing, Lynk & Co 03), 1.758
  3. Esteban Guerrieri (GOAT Racing, Honda Civic Type R FL5), 2.911


Championship points

  1. N. Michelisz, 45 pts; 2. Y. Ehrlacher, 35; 3. E. Guerrieri, 30


Picture: WSC/Fastclick



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