Termas de Rio Hondo : Opening Race flash: Ehrlacher’s maiden WTCC win

First win for Muller’s nephew

By Emmanuel Touzot

16 July 2017 - 21:07
Termas de Rio Hondo : Opening Race (...)

Yann Erhlacher scored his first FIA World Touring Car Championship victory at WTCC Race of Argentina after winner-on-the-road Tom Chilton was penalised for the move that gave him the lead.

Erhlacher was starting from his first career pole position and held on to the lead at the start at the 4.806-kilometre Circuito Termas de Río Hondo. But Sébastien Loeb Racing’s Chilton, who started beside Erhlacher on the reverse-grid front row, tapped the RC Motorsport driver on the first lap to take first place.

Chilton opened up a gap and looked certain to win, until he was handed a five-second penalty for the move. Ehrlacher had defended brilliantly from a train of cars to hang on to second on the road and inherited a hard-won victory.

“It’s amazing, I can’t believe it!” said Ehrlacher, the 21-year-old nephew of four-time WTCC champion Yvan Muller. “I had a little hit by Tom at the beginning, then I just pushed a lot because everyone was pushing hard behind me. A win’s a win – I’ll take it!”

Chilton’s penalty dropped him to fourth behind Sébastien Loeb Racing team-mate Mehdi Bennani in second place and local hero Esteban Guerrieri in his Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1. Championship leader Tiago Monteiro just missed out on claiming fourth by 0.1s after Chilton’s penalty and had to settle for fifth in his Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team Civic.

Polestar Cyan Racing had a nightmare race. The three Volvo S60s were running almost as one early on in fifth, sixth and seventh. But Nicky Catsburg’s race ended with a puncture, while Argentine Nestor Girolami suffered heartbreak in his home race when his Volvo stopped out on the circuit with an electrical issue. That left Thed Björk, who lies second in the title standings, as the best of the S60s in sixth.

Norbert Michelisz was another regular frontrunner to suffer disappointment. The Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team driver, who won the previous WTCC race in Vila Real, picked up a puncture on the first lap after contact with team-mate Monteiro.

Elsewhere, Rob Huff moved up from P12 on the grid to seventh, John Filippi took eighth with Tom Coronel and Ryo Michigami completing the point scorers from the back of the grid following an engine-change penalty overnight. Kevin Gleason, Daniel Nagy, Zsolt David Szabo and Michelisz rounded out the classified finishers.



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