Nestor Girolami upheld Honda Racing drivers’ record of scoring a podium at every round of the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup’s Pre-season Esports Championship with a fine second-place finish at the virtual Ningbo.
Having topped the first part of qualifying, as one of three Honda Civic Type R TCR drivers to make the five-car superpole shootout, Nestor ended up third on the starting grid for race one – a position he maintained during the opening laps.
As the top three gradually broke away at the head of the field, Nestor applied increasing pressure to the second-placed car as he sought to score his second win in the Esports contest.
Nestor backed out of one overtake, having made contact with his rival, but on the following lap made a pass stick at the hairpin in the circuit’s technical final sector to claim runner-up spot.
Race two was a more difficult affair for Nestor, as contact early on put him towards the rear of the field, but the Argentinian executed a strong recovery and had climbed back up to 10th by the finish.
Though Attila Tassi’s run of race-two podium finishes came to an end, the Hungarian still scored two strong results in the virtual version of his ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport Civic Type R TCR.
Attila recorded a best finish of fourth in race two, having hounded the car ahead for the final podium position, and was a strong sixth in race one.
The real-life 2019 WTCR runner-up Esteban Guerrieri also achieved two solid points scores, despite his own record of podiums coming to an end.
After a fourth-place finish in race one, Esteban was in contention for a similar result in race two as part of the same group as Attila in the battle for the final podium position. Delayed while attempting to make an overtake of his own, however, Esteban was passed by two cars on the final lap and finished eighth.
Sim racing rookie Tiago Monteiro secured another double points finish despite being on the receiving end of contact from his rivals, recording 13th in race one and 12th in race two.
Nestor Girolami said: “Ningbo remains a place with happy memories for me because it’s where I scored my first ever WTCC victory, so it’s nice to also have a strong result to celebrate in the virtual world. I was really happy with my performance in race one. I tried to attack Mikel Azcona every lap and for a long time we had a really good fight; there was a point where we were caught by the cars behind, but I spotted an opportunity at the hairpin and was really happy with my overtake. Race two was a bit more difficult because I had a hit, but I still have a good feeling after being fastest in the main qualifying, entering superpole, and scoring a second place.”
Attila Tassi said: “Things didn’t quite come together for me in this round. It was great to make the superpole session in qualifying for the first time, and I felt stronger in the races than my positions suggested, but there seems to have been a slight change in mentality from some of the guys near the top of the Championship. A couple of times it felt like they were trying to use the game’s physics to their advantage; I had a good run on one competitor, but he just touched me a little bit and I lost momentum because that’s how the game works. Anyway, I didn’t adjust my style and still felt competitive, so fourth and sixth is a decent reward.”
Esteban Guerrieri said: “Another pair of intense races. I messed up in Turn 1 on my qualifying lap – I had a shadow as a reference point, but it had changed by the time I started my shootout run and I made a mistake as a result. In race one it was a bit difficult to keep touch with the leading three cars, but I bided my time and they came back to me. I had a couple of close battles with Mikel Azcona but he made his car very wide and in the end I settled for fourth. Race two was a bit more frustrating; we had the pace to be in the top five, but I was stuck behind one car for a long time, and that allowed two others to pass me on the final lap.”
Tiago Monteiro said: “There was lots of contact at the start of race one and I got bumped back, so my race ended up being a bit of damage limitation and a case of just trying to get some points on the board. In race two I was able to take some advantage of the contact at first before I got hit again. Even so, I was able to stay with the guys fighting for the top 10 for most of the race, and actually completed a couple of nice overtakes to run in 10th for a bit. There was a bit too much contact, but at the same time I had a smile on my face during these fights – so hopefully they were entertaining.”