Round 10Malaysia

  • Guerrieri Robbed of WTCR Title in Controversial Season Finale

    Esteban Guerrieri was robbed of the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup in a controversial season finale at Sepang, Malaysia as the ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport driver’s Honda Civic Type R TCR was punted off the track while on-course for the title.


Report

Guerrieri Robbed of WTCR Title in Controversial Season Finale

Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia, December 15, 2019

Esteban Guerrieri was robbed of the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup in a controversial season finale at Sepang, Malaysia as the ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport driver’s Honda Civic Type R TCR was punted off the track while on-course for the title.

Trailing his chief title rival by 10 points coming into race 30 of 30, having dominated the second race in atrocious weather conditions, Esteban moved into the lead at the second corner after a brave wheel-to-wheel battle with title rival Norbert Michelisz.

He was on course to win the championship by two points when he was hit hard up the rear by Mikel Azcona and ran off the track; an incident for which his assailant was penalized 30 seconds post-race.

His radiator filled with grass, Esteban’s car began to overheat, forcing two pitstops that dropped him to 22nd at the checkered flag.

That result ensured the Argentinian finished second in the Drivers’ Championship; his best-ever end-of-season finish in the points table.

Earlier in the day Esteban drove bravely to climb from 10th on the grid to fourth place in a damp first race, before turning in one of the performances of the season in dismal weather in Race Two; opening up an 11-second lead before the safety car ensured a closer finish.

Team-mate Nestor Girolami’s decision to opt for a full set of wet tires for the opening race proved the wrong decision as he fell back from his third place on the grid to finish 22nd.

With everyone on full wets in Race Two, he turned in a fine drive to finish fourth – having also been the victim of contact from Azcona – and added fifth in the finale to ensure the Münnich team – who won seven times this year – finished third in the Teams’ Championship, as well as claiming seventh place for overall for himself – just one point away from the top six.

KCMG wildcard Joao Paulo de Oliveira turned in an incredible performance on his series debut; the Brazilian going from 13th on the grid in the opening race to fifth place by the finish after bravely gambling on a full set of slicks in the damp conditions.

It was the best finish by a wildcard this year and was accompanied by the fastest lap of the day as Civic Type R TCRs achieved this accolade in all three races (Esteban doing so in Races Two and Three).

One of a number of drivers to go off through the gravel on the opening lap of Race Two – which triggered a red flag – he battled back to 18th, but did not finish the final race.

Team-mate Tiago Monteiro sealed a strong result in the finale with sixth spot from 16th on the grid, and the Portuguese was 12th in Race Two, but retired from the opener with a bent steering arm owing to contact on the first lap from the Hyundai of Nick Catsburg.

Attila Tassi, in the third KCMG car, was hugely unlucky. One of only three drivers to start Race Two on a full set of wet tires, he rocketed up from 12th to third by the first corner, only to be hit hard by Hyundai’s Gabriele Tarquini and drop back.

A gearbox issue put him out later on and prevented him from starting Race Three, meaning he could not end a season in which he became the WTCR’s youngest pole-sitter.

Comments

Esteban Guerrieri | ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport

“I’ve really enjoyed the whole year. Today was decided on one result, but that’s life. I’m glad to be finishing in second position and fighting for the championship. In the last race, [Mikel] Azcona hit me in the back and put me on the grass, filling my radiator with grass. I had to pit and that was that. I’ve really enjoyed driving today, all the way to the last lap. The team have done an incredible job this year and they deserved the championship; we left nothing on the table today. So I’m so disappointed for them as well as for myself, but I’m proud of the job we’ve done.”

Nestor Girolami | ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport

“It’s been a mixed day for us, but I’m proud of what we’ve done this year; winning three races and coming third in the Teams’ Championship is a very strong achievement. Today I had a great chance in the first two races, but unfortunately it was impossible to read the weather. We went for full wets in Race One and it was the wrong choice, so the tires were dead after a few laps. Race Two was great and I finished fourth, and I was very happy to be the best Honda in the last race in fifth. I’m not happy about what happened to Esteban. It was an unacceptable move from Azcona and it cost my team-mate the championship. We shouldn’t have driving like this in WTCR.”

Joao Paulo de Oliveira | ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport

“Overall it’s been a very positive raceday; a dream start for me in a TCR. We gambled on the tire strategy in Race One and it worked with full slicks and I could come up to fifth place. It was tricky keeping Yvan Muller behind and protecting Esteban, but it worked, and I got fastest lap of the day, which was nice. I was recovering from the first lap in Race Two, came up from 25th to 11th, spun at the last corner, went back to 26th and came back to 18th. In Race Three I was being very smooth and cautious when [Daniel] Haglof took me off at the second corner and broke my suspension. I could easily have had another top-15 finish without that.”

Tiago Monteiro | KCMG

“I’ve ended the year with a solid points finish in difficult conditions, so that’s a decent way to finish things. The Honda was nice to drive in the wet and as you can see, the car had the fastest lap in all three races, so the balance was good. I was hit hard by Catsburg in Race One and had bent steering, but I stayed out because I was on full wets and thought I could get an advantage if it rained more heavily. Eventually I had to retire. Race Two was very wet and then in Race Three I made up seven places, so that’s a good performance.”

Attila Tassi | KCMG

“It’s really disappointing how things worked out. We made the right choice to go with full wets for Race Two, I came from 12th to third by the first corner and was hit by Tarquini. That broke my suspension, so I had to come to the pits under the red flag for repairs, and meant I restarted from 26th in the pits, but without that, I’d have been first by the time the red flag came out, for sure. I climbed to 16th but then I had a gearbox issue so I stopped and then couldn’t start the last race either. Thirteenth from 21st on the grid in Race One was quite a good recovery, but today could have been so much more.”

Dominik Greiner  | Team Manager, ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport

“After a crazy hard season, to finish second in the Drivers’ Championship and third in the Teams’ points is our best performance in World Touring Car racing. To beat so many big brands as a private team is a great achievement. Both drivers were superb today and by winning Race Two in such dominant fashion, Esteban showed all the skills that should have made him the champion. Every member of the team can be more than proud of what they’ve achieved this year, but I feel they deserved more. We’re all quite emotional now to finish the last race of the year at 10pm. We have to say thank you to Honda and JAS Motorsport for giving us such a great car, and we will be back next year in an even stronger position.”

Dario d'Esposito | Team Principal, KCMG 

“It’s been quite a good day for us; Joao Paulo and Tiago both scoring fifth-place finishes and Attila making up a lot of positions in Race One to score points. We made good tire choices in all the races and with Attila in Race Two, especially, we would have been very high up before the red flag. Unfortunately he was hit by Tarquini and then had an issue with his car. I think we can be pretty upbeat. The end-of-season position does not reflect our speed this year.”

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Results

FIA World Touring Car Cup 2019
Round 10: Malaysia

Race 1

Rank Driver (Machine)
1 Norbert Michelisz (Hyundai i30 N TCR)
2 Aurelien Panis (Cupra TCR)
3 Gabriele Tarquini (Hyundai i30 N TCR)
4 Esteban Guerrieri (Honda Civic TCR)
5 Joao Paulo Lima de Oliveira (Honda Civic TCR)
6 Yvan Muller (Lynk & Co 03 TCR)
13 Attila Tassi (Honda Civic TCR)
22 Nestor Girolami (Honda Civic TCR)
NC Tiago Monteiro (Honda Civic TCR)

Race 2

Rank Driver (Machine)
1 Esteban Guerrieri (Honda Civic TCR)
2 Mikel Azcona (Cupra TCR)
3 Johan Kristoffersson (Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR)
4 Nestor Girolami (Honda Civic TCR)
5 Kevin Ceccon (Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR)
6 Yvan Muller (Lynk & Co 03 TCR)
12 Tiago Monteiro (Honda Civic TCR)
18 Joao Paulo Lima de Oliveira (Honda Civic TCR)
28 Attila Tassi (Honda Civic TCR)

Race 3

Rank Driver (Machine)
1 Johan Kristoffersson (Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR)
2 Kevin Ceccon (Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR)
3 Frederic Vervisch (Audi RS3 LMS)
4 Norbert Michelisz (Hyundai i30 N TCR)
5 Nestor Girolami (Honda Civic TCR)
6 Tiago Monteiro (Honda Civic TCR)
22 Esteban Guerrieri (Honda Civic TCR)
24 Joao Paulo Lima de Oliveira (Honda Civic TCR)

Photos