April 08, 2020
Honda Racing drivers made good on their pledge to provide the entertainment during the opening round of the pre-season Esports WTCR series, as all four battled away in the two races at the virtual Hungaroring.
Esteban Guerrieri, the 2019 WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup runner-up, recorded a best result of second among the WTCR drivers in the first of the two 25-minute races after putting in a determined display.
Having started from the back of the 31-car grid, the result of confusion over server settings, Esteban made steady progress up the order at the beginning of race one, then took full advantage of a scrap between cars ahead to muscle through and make up three positions with two incisive moves just moments apart.
Though the regular sim racers were, as expected, out of reach, Esteban passed fellow Honda WTCR driver Nestor Girolami and pulled clear of the chasing pack thereafter to finish runner-up of the real-life racers in 19th overall.
His second race was over almost as soon as it had started, however, as a multi-car collision approaching the second corner left him at the back of the pack, before he retired from the race.
Tiago Monteiro looked for a long time as though he might better Esteban’s result in race two, after making a blistering start and rising from 23rd to 17th to lead the WTCR contingent.
Attempting to learn from the vastly more experienced gamers ahead of him, fewer than three weeks after making his sim racing debut, Tiago remained at the head of the real-life WTCR pack for a significant portion of the race, but was passed with a little over 10 minutes remaining.
The race ultimately ended in disappointment for Tiago, who had kept a number of competitors at bay with an impressive rearguard action but was spun around twice late on and ended up an unrepresentative 23rd, one place lower than he was classified in race one.
Nestor found himself in the thick of the action, which included completing a textbook touring car pass at the penultimate left-hand hairpin in race one, but was removed from both races in frustrating circumstances as a technical issue meant he could not see initial messages to slow down, or a subsequent notice to serve a drive-through penalty before he was excluded.
Both of Attila Tassi’s races came to an end in a similar way, though the Hungarian was involved in entertaining scraps in both encounters, and briefly ran second behind Tiago in race two.
The Hungaroring round was the first of four events that make up the pre-season Esports series, with the next due to take place at a virtual version of the Slovakia Ring on Monday, April 20, at 7.30pm CEST.