Esteban Guerrieri claimed victory in a dramatic opening race of the FIA World Touring Car Championship, a first for his Campos Racing Chevrolet Team.
The drama started last night when reverse pole-sitter and rookie Yann Ehrlacher was demoted to the back of the grid following a failure to attend a mandatory weigh-in, giving the first spot on the grid to RAOL Motorsport driver Tom Coronel.
Coronel led from the lights, but a tangle at the rear of the grid in which Ehrlacher made contact with the cars of John Fillipi and Néstor Girolami bought out the safety car. Ehrlacher was forced to retire, with the damage to his RC Motorsport car so great he will be unable run in the main race.
Honda’s Ryo Michigami also retired after a spin at the start and contact with the Citroen of Tom Chilton, who was demoted from third on the grid to ninth. Rob Huff too suffered a problem with overheating and retired from the race.
Once the safety car came in, Coronel continued to lead but problems with his brakes resulted in him running wide and falling back to seventh. He then enjoyed battles with the cars of Chilton and Daniel Nagy for position, before eventually being overtaken by Chilton and finishing in eighth after Nagy spun out.
Guerrieri inherited the lead and kept it from there, ahead of Thed Björk in second and local hero Mehdi Bennani in third place.
Volvo’s Nicky Catsburg and main race pole-sitter Tiago Monteiro were fourth and fifth respectively, while Aurélien Panis scored points on his WTCC debut with a 10th place finish.
Source: FIA WTCC