ROUNDS 5 & 6 – BUDAPEST, HUNGARY
The 2014 World Touring Car Championship turned a page at the Hungaroring, today, with Citroën being beaten for the first time since the manufacturer’s arrival in the WTCC.
While Yvan Muller scored another win in the first race, Gianni Morbidelli chalked up his first-ever WTCC win when he dominated the second race in his Münnich Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze.
The Citroën team still scored a 1-2 victory in Race 1, with Yvan Muller finishing ahead of José María López and Honda’s Tiago Monteiro. In the second race Morbidelli led the proceedings from start till finish, though Monteiro was never more than half a second away from the Chevrolet’s rear bumper.
The effect of the Citroën cars being weighed down by 60 kilograms of compensation weight showed especially in Race 2, where the first C-Elysée finished an atypical fifth. Though the Hungaroring is known for being hard to overtake on, the performance of the Chevrolet and Honda cars showed that the French ‘armada’ is no longer invincible, as Tom Coronel proved by keeping Muller and López at bay for the entire race to score a well-deserved fourth place.
Nine-time World Rally Champion Sébastien Loeb had his worst WTCC weekend so far this year as a botched start in Race 1 dropped him from third on the grid to seventh at the end of the first lap, behind all four Honda drivers.
Local hero, Norbert Michelisz, had an unfortunate qualifying session on Saturday which saw him outside the top ten when a suspension part broke on his hot lap. The Hungarian still salvaged a sixth place in the first race and a tenth in the second, cheered on by a huge partisan crowd.
In the TC2T class, the Liqui Moly BMW team again had a walk in the park, with Pasquale Di Sabatino scoring his first win of the season in the first race, before team owner Franz Engstler scored his fifth victory in the second.
In the world championship standings, López still leads with 115 points, but team-mate Muller is now within ten points of the Argentine.
The championship will resume next week at the Slovakia Ring, on May 11 for rounds 7 and 8.
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 the 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.