Steve Sziklai was at the WTCC round in Hungary and brought us these great pictures. We also have a look at what happened over the weekend
MULLER BEATS LÓPEZ FOR POLE POSITION
After inheriting pole position at Le Castellet – following his team-mates’ penalties – Yvan Muller topped the qualifying session at the Hungaroring.
The reigning world champion put in an brilliant performance in Q3, outclassing his rivals with a impressive first sector that was worth an advantage of nearly three tenths. This enabled him to set the fastest lap of 1:48.727 that José María López did not manage to beat, although he recovered in the second part of the lap, reducing the gap to only three hundredths. Sébastien Loeb completed the Citroën trio on top of the qualifying, posting the third fastest lap (1:49.113).
Although the final results spoke again in favour of Citroën, this qualifying session was the closest since the beginning of the season: only three tenths covered the first six cars in Q1 and the first seven in Q2.
The Honda and Chevrolet cars have considerably reduced the gap from the French machines and for the first time a Citroën driver (Loeb) risked to be eliminated in Q2 and a non-Citroën driver (Tarquini in Q2) topped a part of the session.
Dušan Borković qualified in tenth, which will mean pole position on the reverse grid for tomorrow’s second race, alongside Gianni Morbidelli; while Pasquale Di Sabatino won his first pole in the TC2T class.
RACE 1 – YET ANOTHER 1-2 FOR CITROËN
Reigning World Touring Car Champion, Yvan Muller, scored a commanding win in the first race at the Hungaroring, today.
He led home another Citroën 1-2 ahead of team mate José María López. Tiago Monteiro completed the podium in the first Honda Civic.
Nine-time World Rally Champion, Sébastien Loeb, atypically missed his start and dropped from third to seventh, allowing all four Honda cars to pass him. Local hero Norbert Michelisz, who had had a difficult qualifying session yesterday, used his talent to move up from 11th to sixth in the space of three corners.
With Coronel starting in eighth, the top-8 after the first lap stayed the same throughout the entire race, with the real fights for position happening in the back. Midway through the race, the LADA cars seemed to suffer handling problems and both Rob Huff and James Thompson were passed by the Chevrolet cars of Gianni Morbidelli and Hugo Valente.
In the TC2T class, Liqui Moly Team Engstler scored another 1-2, this time “apprentice” Pasquale Di Sabatino finishing ahead of team boss Franz Engstler.
RACE 2 – FIRST WIN FOR MORBIDELLI
Gianni Morbidelli scored an epic WTCC win in the second race at the Hungaroring today, leading from lights to chequered flag. The first for the Italian driver and for Chevrolet RML TC1 car.
Honda’s Tiago Monteiro chased Morbidelli hard for the entire race, with the gap between the Münnich Motorsport Chevrolet and the works Honda never being more than 0.4 seconds, but in the end the Portuguese driver had to settle for second.
Third place went to Frenchman Hugo Valente in the Campos Chevrolet RML Cruze, making it the first time this season a Citroën did not win the race and indeed the first podium without a Citroën driver.
For the German Münnich Motorsport team the races in Budapest seem to bring luck, as the team won here as well last year with Rob Huff.
Tom Coronel, who returned to the series this weekend after his massive accident in the opening round in Marrakech, finished in fourth ahead of the Citroën cars of Muller and Lopez.
In the TC2T class it was business as usual, with the two Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW cars again finishing first and second, this time with Engstler ahead of Di Sabatino.
Franz Engstler: “We had some oversteering issues in practice and again in the first race. In both races I had a good start, but halfway through the first race the oversteering came back again and forced me to go wide in one corner, which allowed Pasquale to get through. We made a small change to the set-up for the second race and that worked.”
Gianni Morbidelli: “My victory may have looked easy from the outside, but I can tell you it wasn’t. After my brake issues yesterday in practice, I never thought to be able to win here. I half expected to see the Citroën cars arrive in my rear-view mirrors at some point, but they didn’t. Instead I had to fight hard to keep Tiago (Monteiro) at bay all 14 laps, but fortunately I had a near-perfect race and made no mistakes. Of course it also helped me that it is difficult to overtake here. I was faster in some corners and Tiago was a bit quicker on other parts of the track. I would like to dedicate this victory to the Münnich Motorsport team, as they have worked very, very hard to get where we are today.”
Yvan Muller: “This is a track where we all know it’s difficult to overtake, so having a good start was key to the outcome of the race. In the beginning I pushed hard to create a gap over José María (López), so from the moment I had roughly 1.8 seconds in hand I slowed down a bit and controlled my lead. I was very pleased with car in the first race, as it was important for me to score as many points as possible here and at the previous round in France to compensate for the zero-score in the second race in Marrakech.”
“The guys have been working for weeks non-stop, until late last night and all through the morning,” Coronel said. “But we’re here, and that’s what matters. So far this year it has been a race against time; first to get the car ready for the start of the season, then to get it rebuilt for this weekend. All that was left intact after the accident was my seat and the steering wheel; everything else had to be replaced, repaired or rebuilt. I’ve been racing for 25 years now, but I’ve never before experienced a start of the season like this. In fact, my season really only starts this weekend, because so far I have barely driven the Chevrolet in anger. I did a 70-lap shake down, some laps in practice and qualifying in Marrakech, then an easy first race to save the car for the second race [where he started from pole position] but which lasted about 500 metres. So from this weekend onwards, I’ll be really racing.”
“We have made some steps in the right direction again and my pace in race two was only eight tenths off Sebastien Loeb in the all-conquering Citroen,” said Huff. “That’s a significant difference from where we started in Morocco and, hopefully, we can now get some meaningful testing data to make some improvements and continue our fight up the field.”
The Compensation Weight system came into force for the first time this season at the Hungaroring.
The system determines the running weight of the cars on the basis of lap time calculation.
The best lap times of the two fastest cars of each model in qualifying and the two best lap times of the two fastest cars of each model in both races are averaged. The calculation is based on a three event rolling average, being applied after the first two events.
The compensation weight has been determined by the lap times set in Morocco and France, and the Citroën C-Elysée – that won all the four races – was identified as the reference model. As a consequence it will receive the maximum compensation weight of 60 kg in addition to the minimum weight of 1100 kg.
The Honda Civic, Chevrolet RML Cruze and LADA Granta cars will run with no compensation weight added.
The weights of the different model cars do not change for the fourth race meeting of the season that takes place this weekend at the Slovakia Ring.
The Compensation Weight system came into force last week at the Hungaroring, taking into account the laps times set in the qualifying and races at Marrakech and Le Castellet.
From now onwards, the calculation is based on the lap times set in the three previous events and according to the average between Morocco, France and Hungary, all cars will run at the Slovakia Ring with the same weight they had at the Hungaroring.
The Citroën C-Elysée remains the reference model and receives the maximum compensation weight of 60 kg in addition to the minimum weight of 1100 kg.
The Honda Civic, Chevrolet RML Cruze and LADA Granta cars keep on running with no compensation weight added.
Photos by Steve Sziklai
Words from press materials
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