Norbert Michelisz leads Honda 1-2 as Volvo’s Nicky Catsburg hits trouble
Norbert Michelisz took his second race victory of the season in the main race in Argentina, and leaps to third in the drivers’ championship, while the Polestar Cyan Volvo of Nicky Catsburg scored no points on race day, with another puncture forcing him to retire at half-distance.
Catsburg started from pole position and led the way into Turn 1 followed by the two Hondas of Norbert Michelisz and Tiago Monteiro, who diced it out for second position through the first sequence of corners, with Michelisz coming out on top.
Esteban Guerrieri had a slow getaway from fourth in the grid in his Campos Racing Chevrolet, which caused a concertina effect behind, with Volvo’s Néstor Girolami and the SLR Citroën of Tom Chilton both going wide off the circuit in avoidance
Despite this, Girolami was able to pass Guerrieri for fifth, but a mistake at the end of the lap saw the Argentinian hand the position back to his countryman, with Girolami losing a further spot on lap four to the Citroën of Mehdi Bennani.
It was all quiet up front until lap seven, when Nicky Catsburg, who was cruising towards his second win of the year, suffered another front-left puncture on his S60 TC1, with Michelisz taking over the lead.
Thed Björk was promoted to third in the Polestar Volvo, with Guerrieri running on his own in fourth position.
Bennani fell back towards Girolami in the closing stages of the race, but the Volvo driver was unable to find a way past the Citroën, while Tom Chilton was just able to hang on to eighth despite running with a damaged car after his off-track excursion at the start, leading a train of Race 1 winner Yann Ehrlacher’s Lada, Rob Huff’s Citroën and Tom Coronel’s Chevrolet, with the Honda of Ryo Michigami and Citroën of John Filippi right behind them but just outside of the points positions.
Michelisz went on to win the race by half a second over Monteiro, with Björk less than a second behind.
“I have to say, I was maybe a bit lucky with the puncture of Nicky,” said Michelisz. “After that it was all about controlling the pace, but the car felt good the whole race.
“Winning the race and scoring 30 points for the championship is great. I’m a bit disappointed about the first race, as having a left-front puncture for the third time this season means we left important points there.”
Monteiro has now extended his lead in the championship to 12 points over Björk, while Michelisz has moved up to third in the standings, 29 points behind his Honda team-mate heading to the next round of the championship at the Ningbo circuit in China in 13 weeks’ time.