FIA WTCR RACE OF SLOVAKIA
Slovakia Ring, 13-15 July 2018
WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO, Rounds 16-18 of 30
MICHELISZ MIGHTY AS SLOVAKIA DELIVERS ACTION-PACKED WTCR OSCARO WEEKEND
*Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini hands Race 3 winner’s trophy to Michelisz
*Oriola and Tarquini also triumph as Tarquini takes title lead by three points
*Vervisch beats Björk to Race 3 podium by 0.002s in photo-finish
*WTCR season so far: 11 winning drivers, six customer racing brands victorious
Norbert Michelisz topped off an action-packed WTCR Race of Slovakia weekend with his first win in the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO following a thrilling Race 3 at a sun-baked Slovakia Ring this afternoon (15 July).
Team OSCARO by Campos Racing’s Pepe Oriola and Gabriele Tarquini also claimed victories, taking a win apiece on Saturday. Oriola and Michelisz, who partners Tarquini in the Hyundai-powered BRC Racing Team, are winners number 10 and 11 of the season respectively, while Oriola’s success for Cupra in Race 1 means six customer racing brands have won races in 2018.
Tarquini heads into the summer break at the top of the standings, albeit a slender three points ahead of Yvan Muller with Michelisz firmly in contention in third, closely followed by Yann Ehrlacher (ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR) and Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team’s Jean-Karl Vernay, who beat Tarquini to second place in Race 1 behind Oriola. Tarquini was also the winner of the TAG Heuer Best Lap Trophy and TAG Heuer Most Valuable Driver for scoring more points than his rivals across the WTCR Race of Slovakia weekend.
In a weekend of firsts, Norbert Nagy scored his and Zengő Motorsport’s maiden WTCR OSCARO podium with second in Race 2, sandwiched by his boyhood heroes Tarquini and Muller. Fabrizio Giovanardi claimed Team Mulsanne’s first points with fifth in Race 1 in his Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR by Romeo Ferraris. New team-mate Kevin Ceccon was sixth in Race 3 on his championship debut. Denis Dupont took his first points with eighth in Race 2 in his RACB National Team Comtoyou Audi, while Zsolt Szabó scored for the first time, finishing P10 in Race 3.
Teenager Benjamin Lessennes was the best Honda driver over the weekend with fifth in Race 2 for Boutsen Ginion Racing, one place ahead of John Filippi. Czech wildcard entry Petr Fulín, the FIA European Touring Car Cup winner from 2017, charged from P16 to fifth in Race 3, but it was a weekend of frustration for Slovak Mato Homola, who was out of the points in all three races.
Frédéric Vervisch secured the final podium of the weekend, which also featured four races from the FIA European Truck Racing Championship, after fending off World Touring Car champion Thed Björk for third in Race 3 by 0.002s in a thrilling photo-finish. The results of Races 2 and 3 remain provisional pending an ongoing appeal process.
Race winner quotes
Pepe Oriola, Team OSCARO by Campos Racing (Race 1): “I had a good start. It was hot into the first corner, but Jean-Karl and I have known each other a long time and have raced together for two years. I was confident he would not touch me, but you never know! After that I just tried to follow Comte. I thought he would be quicker, but I could attack after the first lap after some mistakes he made. And then in the lead I tried not to make any mistakes, which at this track is difficult because the braking points are really hard to pick up. Then we had the safety car and the restart. I knew it would be really important because the only place Jean-Karl would be able to overtake me was the first sector and if he would keep close to me on the restart I knew I would really suffer after Turn 2. So I did my best to open up as much of a gap as I could before the last corner, and it worked. I am really happy for the team and for Cupra. It’s a good happy birthday for me too which was on Monday, so I’m really happy with that.
Gabriele Tarquini, BRC Racing Team (Race 2): “It was not easy because on the grid we had some water leaking and the mechanics made a miracle! There was falling some water and I though I must stop after two laps. But they said ‘don’t worry, we’ve put in an old system like you and it will be fine! Qualifying was not fantastic but in the end I was second in the reverse-grid and this was good. The start was the key of my win because on the track the Cupra is very difficult to overtake and Norbert made a fantastic race, he made no mistakes and was consistently fast. I was pushing, especially for the first two laps. He drove very, very well. It was not easy with Norbert. He had a very good start and I was fighting side-by-side but I took the inside of Turn 2. After I just decide to push as strong as I can for the first two laps just to have a gap and then after that I managed because I wasn’t sure about the water and the cooling. It’s great, a great win because I will remember this win because I have never had a problem on the grid like this before. Now it’s one race to the Asia rounds and we are there with another fox [Yvan Muller] who will follow me there like he always does! Maybe I must kill him, I don’t know! I gained a little bit of my points, my target was to win this race and I got the opportunity and you must use it.”
Norbert Michelisz, BRC Racing Team (Race 3): “I’ve been waiting for this for some races now. The weekend didn’t start the way we wanted. The feeling with the car was quite good, but not having the proper starting position for the first race made me really disappointed. But we managed to turn it around with the second qualifying and the third race today. I’m really happy and there’s a big relief from my side. Having won the first race, there is some pressure now off my shoulders and I really hope this is the start of a turnaround for me in terms of the championship fight. There have been a lot of ups and downs throughout the season, but going into the summer break with a boost I have from the atmosphere from this race makes me happy.”
Race 1 report
Race 1 press conference
Race 2 report
Race 2 top 3 driver quotes
Race 3 report
Race 3 press conference
Provisional results and standings
More on OSCARO: wtcr.oscaro.com