24 races, 12 winners and a tightly-poised WTCR title tussle

24 races, 12 winners and a tightly-poised WTCR title tussle

08.11.2019: FIA WTCR Race of Macau WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO 2019 Rounds 25, 26 and 27 of 30, Circuito da Guia, 14-17 November Twelve drivers have won races in 2019, while all seven customer racing brands have celebrated race vic

FIA WTCR Race of Macau
WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO 2019
Rounds 25, 26 and 27 of 30, Circuito da Guia, 14-17 November




Twelve drivers have won races in 2019, while all seven customer racing brands have celebrated race victories to underline another hugely competitive WTCR / OSCARO season.



Welcome to the #WTCR2019SUPERGRID




The #WTCR2019SUPERGRID celebrates the fact that of the 26 all-season racers, seven have won 14 FIA world titles, while the others have shared 29 major championships between them.



Gabriele Tarquini, who began his world title defence with the Race 2 win at the season-opening WTCR AFRIQUIA Race of Morocco, carries the number 1 on his BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse i30 N TCR. The vastly experienced Tarquini took his second victory of 2019 when he beat team-mate and home hero Norbert Michelisz in the third race in Hungary.



After missing out on the inaugural WTCR / OSCARO crown by three points in a seven-way title decider in Macau last November, four-time world champion Yvan Muller is back in a Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 03 TCR developed by Geely Group Motorsport from China. He took his first wins of the season at Lynk & Co’s home event in September to announce his emergence as a title contender.



Thed Björk partners Muller at Cyan Racing Lynk & Co and started his bid for a second FIA world crown by giving Lynk & Co an historic victory in Morocco. After the Hungary and Slovakia weekends proved frustrating in comparison, the Swede hit back in style with a win double in The Netherlands. The Swede climbed up to third in the rankings with a Race 3 podium in Japan.



Rob Huff (SLR VW Motorsport Golf GTI TCR), the 2012 WTCC champion, is one of 12 of the 15 winners from 2018 back in action in 2019. After a challenging start to the year, the Briton led in Slovakia and scored his first podium of the season in Japan last month.



BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team’s Augusto Farfus, has been forced to miss WTCR Race of Macau due to the fact he’s defending his FIA GT World Cup title from 2018. Rising German star and TCR Asia champion Luca Engstler replaces him at BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team.



Double FIA World Rallycross champion Johan Kristoffersson (SLR Volkswagen) became a double WTCR winner with victory in Japan’s third race. However, Macau is unchartered territory.



Like Kristoffersson, three-time WTCC champion Andy Priaulx (Cyan Performance Lynk & Co) is new to WTCR for 2019, but he’s yet to savour the same success as his Swedish rival, although he led in China and was quickest in the opening two phases of Second Qualifying in Japan.



Winner of Race 1 in Marrakech, Esteban Guerrieri (ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR), topped the standings after the first race in Hungary only for his challenge to unravel when broken steering caused his Race 3 crash. He made amends with a fighting second place in Race 2 at the Slovakia Ring and retook top spot in the title table by winning Race 2 at Zandvoort.



Having held first overall throughout the summer, a frustrating Ningbo weekend meant the Argentine dropped to second in the table. But he fought back in style in Japan by winning Race 1 and completing the weekend as the TAG Heuer Most Valuable Driver. He also won Race 3 in Macau last season.



Jean-Karl Vernay (Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport) had high hopes of his first 2019 victory in Hungary when he lined up on the reverse-grid Race 2 pole. But a clutch issue meant a sluggish start resulting in the Frenchman settling for second ahead of impressive newcomer Daniel Haglöf (PWR Racing), who hands over his CUPRA TCR to Robert Dahlgren for Macau, with the TCR Scandinavia champion making his WTCR / OSCARO debut.



Vernay’s team-mate Gordon Shedden and Comtoyou Racing pair Niels Langeveld and Frédéric Vervisch complete the Audi-powered attack with Vervisch winning in Slovakia – the result of an impressive charge from ninth on the grid – and taking a podium double in Germany. In his first season in WTCR / OSCARO, Langeveld took a breakthrough podium in Japan. Shedden won once last season and won’t be giving up on his efforts to emulate that achievement in Macau, where Vernay and Vervisch were both victorious in 2018.



A number of exciting young guns are challenging the established order in 2019. They include Mikel Azcona, who graduated to WTCR as the TCR Europe champion to race a PWR-run CUPRA, and his close rival in recent seasons, Attila Tassi, the 20-year-old Honda-powered KCMG driver. Although Vila Real was unchartered territory for both back in July, Tassi took the DHL Pole Position for Race 3, while Azcona scored a breakthrough win in Race 2. Azcona, the best-placed rookie in the standings, was a podium finisher again in China, where Honda-powered Tassi produced his highest-scoring weekend.



Kevin Ceccon (Team Mulsanne) and Yann Ehrlacher (Cyan Performance Lynk & Co) are already winners in WTCR, but at 26 and 23 respectively, they remain among a list of talented youngsters that also includes Aurélien Panis, who has switched to CUPRA power for 2019 with Comtoyou Team DHL CUPRA Racing and set the fastest lap in Race 1 in China. Ex-single-seater racer Ceccon scored a podium brace in Slovakia, while Ehrlacher led and was the TAG Heuer Most Valuable Driver in Vila Real.



Tom Coronel, who has extensive experience in Macau, partners Panis at Comtoyou. His fellow Dutchman Nicky Catsburg (BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team) is new to WTCR in 2019 having triumphed in the World Touring Car Championship in the past. Benjamin Leuchter made the most of his Nordschleife knowledge to score an emotional home victory in Germany. However, Macau is a trip into the unknown for the SLR Volkswagen driver.



ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport’s Honda-powered Argentine Néstor Girolami, another series newcomer for this year, is a WTCC race winner with three WTCR / OSCARO victories also to his name. Having become the first Chinese to score WTCR points in 2018, Ma Qinghua made more history as the first Chinese driver to win a WTCR / OSCARO race when he triumphed in Race 3 at the Slovakia Ring in his Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce by Romeo Ferraris.



Tiago Monteiro is in his first full season since serious head and neck injuries ended his hopes of winning the WTCC title in 2017. The Portuguese, a Formula One podium finisher in the past, drives a Honda Civic Type R TCR for Hong Kong-based KCMG. He returns to Macau where he won the Guia Race in 2016 and remains on a high following his emotional home win in Vila Real in July.



Monteiro’s former team-mate, Norbert Michelisz, is second on the #RoadToMalaysia after adding victories in China and Japan to his triumphs in Germany and Portugal for BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse. Mehdi Bennani, meanwhile, is playing catch-up in the WTCR / OSCARO standings but will look back to his Guia Race triumph in 2017 for inspiration.



- Richard Rodgers, photos FIA WTCR

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/24-races-12-winners-wtcr-title-tussle---200160.html

08.11.2019 / MaP

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