Yvan Muller claimed his first podium finish of 2019 in the first FIA World Touring Car Cup race of the weekend in Hungary. The four-time World Champion did it after a strong qualifying where he secured a front row grid position for the third time in three attempts.
“The team stayed very late after testing yesterday and we found more speed, I am very pleased with that and to claim my first podium this year. I had a great battle with Néstor and Esteban, it’s not easy racing with them, they can attack you at any time and it’s exciting,” said Yvan Muller.
The Frenchman made a strong start and fought hard with the two Honda drivers of Néstor Girolami and Esteban Guerrieri throughout the race. The trio crossed the line with just nine tenths of a second separating them after 12 laps.
Thed Björk fought hard after receiving front-end damage at the start of the race to finish seventh, rescuing important points to the championship where he is currently placed second, five points from the lead.
“I had a tough start and got some damage to my suspension that made it very difficult to fight in the race. I focussed on managing my position and to secure points, that is the important thing this year,” said Thed Björk.
Three-time World Champion Andy Priaulx clawed his way up from 15th position on the grid to finish 12th.
“I’m happy to score points from a difficult position on the grid and I was able to make some places. Every lap in the car for me is very important. I’m looking forward to qualify in a stronger position tomorrow,” said Andy Priaulx.
22-year-old Yann Ehrlacher made a strong start from fifth on the grid to fourth after the first lap. The Frenchman was however forced to retire with suspension damage four laps later after an incident with Cupra driver Aurelien Panis.
“I had a good start and gained one position. Then the cars ahead of me were very slow and that enabled Panis to attack me. Then we made contact going out of the first corner and that caused my rear suspension to break, nothing I could do. I’m very disappointed with the outcome, we need those points. But it is a new day tomorrow and I will continue to work hard,” said Yann Ehrlacher.
The first race of three in Hungary has Thed Björk in second position of the drivers’ championship, Yvan Muller has climbed to seventh, Yann Ehrlacher is ninth and Andy Priaulx eleventh.
The WTCR Race of Hungary weekend continues tomorrow with qualifying and two races of 12 and 15 laps respectively.
Points for drivers – Top 5
1 Esteban Guerrieri Honda Civic 75 pts
2 Thed Björk Lynk & Co 03 70 (-5)
3 Néstor Girolami Honda Civic 64 (-11)
4 Gabriele Tarquini Hyundai i30 52 (-23)
5 Jean-Karl Vernay Audi RS 3 42 (-33)
7 Yvan Muller Lynk & Co 03 41 (-34)
9 Yann Ehrlacher Lynk & Co 03 25 (-50)
11 Andy Priaulx Lynk & Co 03 22 (-53)
Points for teams – Top 5
1 Münnich Motorsport 139 pts
2 Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 111 (-28)
3 BRC Hyundai 75 (-64)
4 Leopard Audi Sport 54 (-85)
5 Cyan Performance Lynk & Co 47 (-92)
Results Race 1