Esteban Guerrieri kicked off the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup with a dominant victory from pole position for the Honda Civic Type R TCR in Marrakech, while Nestor Girolami made it a double-podium for ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport.
Argentinian driver Esteban, who finished the 2018 season with victory in Macau, proved he’s a master of the streets by streaking to Honda’s first WTCR pole position in an ultra-tight session where the top 21 cars were covered by one second.
He then clung on to the lead at the start and drove a commanding race to record his third career victory in the series; a result that gave him an early seven-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship.
Team-mate and countryman ‘Bebu’ started third, but lost ground on the opening lap while battling to defend his position. The WTCR debutant regrouped and made up positions to claim a superb third-place finish and make it a double-podium for his German team.
KCMG, who make their full-time WTCR debut this weekend, showed strong pace with returning driver Tiago Monteiro and series rookie Attila Tassi both proving their pace throughout the day.
Tiago, who has not raced full-time since sustaining injuries 19 months ago, was on the pace from the word go; missing out on a front-row start by just 0.2 seconds after encountering heavy traffic in qualifying.
He fought hard in the race to improve to sixth place and cap a fine comeback performance.
Team-mate Attila started from the back row after damaging his splitter on a large kerb and pitting for repairs late in qualifying. The Hungarian teenager made excellent progress; climbing to 19th by the chequered flag and setting the race’s fastest lap.
Sunday plays host to a separate qualifying session, which determines the grid position for Races Two and Three.