Photo: TCR Media

Norbert Michelisz takes commanding win at Vallelunga

Norbert Michelisz won the first race of the weekend at Vallelunga as the new TCR World Tour season kicked off.

The Hungarian lost the lead to Yann Ehrlacher at the start, but soon took his Hyundai to the front of the field again and never looked back. His Lynk & Co rival came home second ahead of Esteban Guerrieri, who completed the podium in his Honda Civic Type R FL5 TCR.

Nestor Girolami stalled at the start, but the whole field managing to avoid him, with a fine start from Ehrlacher seeing him jump into the lead. A bit of contact with Marco Butti at Campagnano relegated Mikel Azcona from fifth to seventh, but at Cimini Azcona regained sixth from Ma Qing Hua and looked to try and climb up the order.

Butti tried to attack Thed Björk but Azcona took advantage and went back up to fifth. At the start of the third lap Michelisz overtook Ehrlacher for the lead after a blistering exit from the last corner, the duo followed closely by Esteban Guerrieri’s Honda.

The Frenchman started to come under pressure from the Argentinian, as Björk found himself in the same situation with both Azcona and Butti attacking hard. The Swede had a queue behind him, his team-mates Santiago Urrutia and Ma following closely, with John Filippi’s Audi also in the picture.

On lap six Butti overtook Azcona for fifth, which allowed Björk some breathing space. However on lap eight, as the train overtook Kaya, Azcona took advantage and overtook both Butti and Björk at Soratte. Azcona made a slight mistake at the exit of the last corner, which allowed Butti back through for fourth.

As Butti and Azcona went further into the distance, Björk made Urrutia’s life easy in overtaking him and relinquished sixth to his fellow Lynk & Co driver. Although it looked like the Uruguayan had the pace to sget closer to Azcona, in the longer term the Lynk & Co driver lost ground and the race finished with Michelisz winning ahead of Ehrlacher and Guerrieri.

Marco Butti came home a good fourth ahead of Azcona, Urrutia and Björk. Ma Qing Hua was the last of the Lynk & Cos, while John Filippi finished as the leading Audi in ninth. Néstor Girolami finished tenth after a good recovery from stalling at the start.

At the time of writing an incident between Ma and Filippi is under investigation by the stewards, most likely due to the contact between the two at Cimini at the start.

The second, reversed-grid race is scheduled for tomorrow at 14:25 CEST.