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 penalised 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 chequered 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 tyres 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 seventh 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 tyres, 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.