Yann Ehrlacher extends advantage with race two success
Yann Ehrlacher extended his lead in the FIA World Touring Car Cup with a controlled drive to victory in the second race of the weekend at the Hungaroring.
Home driver Bence Boldizs started on pole at the wheel of his Zengő-run Cupra León Competición but had the hugely experienced figure of Yvan Muller alongside in the first of the Lynk & Cos, and points leader Ehrlacher directly behind alongside the Audi of Nathanaël Berthon.
Muller jumped into the lead from Ehrlacher at the start, with a fast-starting Jean-Karl Vernay jumping up to third having gone side-by-side with Mikel Azcona in the second of the Cupras.
However, when Vernay and Azcona then touched at turn two it saw Azcona turned sideways where he was hit by Néstor Girolami – putting the Honda out with damaged suspension and causing Luca Filippi to spin in avoidance.
Azcona would initially continue, but was then forced to bring the Cupra into the pits with heavy damage to the front right.
Out front, Ehrlacher quickly moved to the head of the field from Muller and Vernay with Boldizs managing to hold onto fourth for the opening lap before he started to slip back down the order – with Santiago Urrutia, Berthon and Norbert Michelisz all managing to get ahead of the teenager.
Down outside the top ten, Gilles Magnus was fighting hard to come through from the back after his post-qualifying penalty, moving up into the top 12 by the end of lap four; helped in part by a clash between fellow Audi driver Tom Coronel and the Hyundai of Gabriele Tarquini.
Ehrlacher was able to ease away at the front through the early part of the race as Muller focused on keeping Vernay at bay, with the Alfa Romeo driver then starting to come under increasing pressure from Urrutia behind.
In fact, Muller was acting as something of a cork in the bottle, with Berthon and Michelisz also part of the train of cars battling for the podium positions.
Ehrlacher’s lead was near three seconds when the safety car was deployed after Coronel and Luca Engstler clashed at turn eight on lap seven whilst fighting towards the lower reaches of the points-scoring positions.
Coronel was looking to get up the inside of the Hyundai, which seemed to be struggling with tyre wear, but as Engstler moved across to defend he discovered that Audi driver already had his nose in the gap – with the end result being that the #8 i30 N TCR went off heavily into the barriers before coming to rest on the outside of the circuit.
The action resumed on lap eleven with Vernay caught napping as Ehrlacher and Muller jumped clear of the Alfa Romeo. Further back, Boldizs had a look at Michelisz into turn two but having failed to make the move stick, had to turn his attentions to defending from race one winner Esteban Guerrieri behind.
Ehrlacher quickly eased away again at the front as Muller dropped back towards Vernay as the race headed into the final two laps, but there were to be no changes as the front as the two Lynk & Cos beat the Alfa Romeo to the flag – with French drivers locking out the podium.
Urrutia took fourth ahead of Berthon, with Michelisz once again setting the fastest lap in his Hyundai as he took sixth spot. Seventh for Boldizs marked his best result of the season to date after the Cupra driver managed to keep Guerrieri at bay, with Attila Tassi and Tiago Monteiro rounding out the top ten.
Having been second coming into the weekend, Coronel’s tough weekend continued as he failed to score after being handed a drive through penalty for the two bouts of contact that he was involved in during the race.
The final race of the weekend is scheduled for 16:15 CEST.