Yann Ehrlacher battled to a pair of top-10 finishes on the streets of Vila Real to keep himself in contention for the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup.
The Frenchman and his ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport team-mates Esteban Guerrieri and James Thompson were innocent victims of a major opening-lap incident on Saturday that involved nearly the entire 27-car grid.
While Esteban’s car was able to take Saturday’s re-started race, the Honda Civic Type R TCRs of Yann and James looked beyond repair.
Incredible work overnight by the German team miraculously returned Yann’s car to near-showroom condition, enabling him to qualify fifth and finish the day’s two races in seventh; results that keep him second in the championship at the season’s midway point.
After finishing second on Saturday, Esteban’s car suffered a mechanical issue in qualifying that restricted him to 19th on the grid.
Having been put into the wall in Race Two by another driver, the Argentinian had to start Race Three from the back and came home 13th; the allowed ‘repair time’ not being sufficient to fix the damage to the left-front corner. James’ car was unfortunately too-badly damaged to fix on-site.
Belgian teenager Benjamin Lessennes scored a fine eighth place in Race Three for Boutsen Ginion Racing.
Having started 12th, he took his joker lap early. His team’s canny strategy paid off as several safety-car periods meant that the majority of the field were forced to wait until the final lap, which gained him four places in one go.
Team-mate Tom Coronel showed top-six pace in morning qualifying, but was unlucky to suffer front punctures in Q1 and both races, which ended his chances of adding to his points total.
Portuguese wildcard Jose Rodrigues kept his nose clean as attrition levels were high. Driving an older-spec Civic Type R TCR, the Target Competition racer qualified 23rd and finished Race Two in 16th place.
He was on the verge of a points-scoring top-10 finish in Race Three when he sustained a last-lap front puncture, which put him in the wall. Although he did not cross the finish line, he was classified in 15th spot.
The next WTCR round takes place at the Slovakia Ring near Bratislava, on July 13-14.