Photo: TCR World Tour

Michelisz grabs points lead from Ehrlacher in controversial La Pedrera round

Norbert Michelisz is the new TCR World Tour leader after a controversial La Pedrera race weekend, heading former leader Yann Ehrlacher by four points.

The two title rivals came together on the last lap of Race 2, resulting Ehrlacher dropping to 16th position while Michelisz managed to salvage fourth.

“The weekend started a bit tricky; we didn’t seem to have the pace, but the team did a great job to improve the Hyundai Elantra N TCR so that I was confident going into qualifying,” said Michelisz.

“It hasn’t been easy as the track conditions kept changing due to the weather, so it was difficult to defend and overtake without making any mistakes. I think it was even trickier than what it looked like from the outside.

“But in the end, I have scored a lot of important points for the standings this weekend, which was always going to be a hard task on a circuit like this with the tough competition around us.”

Lynk & Co driver Ehrlacher headed into the race weekend in Argentina with a 20-point lead which was eradicated following a tough first race where he struggled for grip in the drying conditions and lastly the incident of Race 2.

“The pole was really good, and I was making good progress in the final race, setting good lap times,” said Ehrlacher.

“It feels bad to end the weekend in the wall, especially as it means a lot of work for the team. It was a big hit, and we missed a good opportunity to score points. It’s racing, sometimes we love it and sometimes we hate it. But what I do know is that we will come back stronger in Australia, we have a good package.”

The first race saw Mikel Azcona leading a Hyundai 1-2 with Michelisz in second. The second race meanwhile meant disaster for the Spaniard who was forced to retire following an incident with Santiago Urrutia, which the latter was handed a 30-second penalty for.

“Achieving the good result in qualifying really helped us to fight in Race 1 where we finished first and second, so very pleased to have taken my first win of the season,” said Azcona.

“Sadly, these good feelings ended there as the second race was very short for me. I finished in the second corner after being pushed into the wall. I’m disappointed as I felt really strong before the race, but the season still has a long way to go, and we can recover from this result.”

There was further controversy as the stewards of the La Pedrera race weekend made a mistake when handing out a penalty to Frédéric Vervisch for contact with Thed Björk at the start of Race 2.

The Audi driver was given a seven-second penalty for the incident which still positioned him ahead of Björk in fifth place by 0.299 seconds.

And the stewards had a busy time with a flurry of incidents and investigations throughout the weekend.

Another controversial decision was the disqualification of TCR South America driver Pedro Cardoso for a technical infringement. The Hyundai driver also hit Vervisch after the race had finished when the cars were touring around to head into the pits.

The TCR World Tour field heads into a two-month break, traveling to Australia and Sydney Motorsport Park on November 4-5.