Under the dusk evening sky in Slovakia, Gabriele Tarquini took his fourth race win of the 2018 World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) season, and reclaimed the lead of the drivers’ points championship as a result.
Norbert Nagy would start the reversed-grid race from pole position with Tarquini alongside on the front row, and although the Zengo Motorsport driver got a good getaway, he was matched by the experienced Italian. The pair ran side-by-side through the first couple of corners, but by turn three Nagy had no choice but to concede the lead to Tarquini as the track curved in his favour.
Aurelien Comte began to drop back on lap two, first being passed by John Filippi, and then the Munnich Motorsport duo of Esteban Guerrieri and Yann Ehrlacher. Just behind, a seven-car battle was raging just outside the top ten. As the wounded Alfa Romeo of Fabrizio Giovanardi began to act as a road block, Nathanael Berthon and Jean-Karl Vernay started to eek out a gap over the rest of the group. Eventually, Thed Bjork managed to edge past the Italian, but the bunching had already caused drama. Contact between Aurelien Panis and wildcard entry, Petr Fulin, left the latter with terminal damage.
Vernay then took himself out of the race on lap four. Running far too deep into turn three, the Frenchman took a trip through the gravel trap, picking up damage which forced him into the pit lane. A lap later, the battle for ninth place had been reignited. Two of the championship contenders, Yann Ehrlacher and Norbert Michelisz, were bumper to bumper during the early stages of lap five. Rather quickly, Michelisz was able to make the overtake with relative ease. It wasn’t long before the Hyundai driver was then ahead of Ehrlacher’s team-mate Guerrieri a little further around the lap either.
A few seconds behind, Comte, Berthon and Bjork ran three-abreast through the early stages of lap six. Comte was the big loser as both of the other drivers found a way past. Norbert Michelisz carried on his charge up ahead, this time overtaking Frederic Vervisch for seventh place.
Gabriele Tarquini remained relatively unchallenged for victory throughout the race, however the star driver of the race surely has to be Norbert Nagy. Having not scored a single point until now, the Hungarian youngster held off the charge from Yvan Muller all race in order to secure a tremendous second place finish.
Campos Racing also claimed a strong result, with Pepe Oriola finishing fourth and John Filippi a personal best result of sixth place, split by Belgian youngster Benjamin Lessennes.
Full Race Result:
|1st||Gabriele Tarquini||Hyundai||9 laps|
|12th||Kevin Ceccon||Alfa Romeo||+15.084|
|15th||Fabrizio Giovanardi||Alfa Romeo||+18.330|
|21st||Petr Fulin||Cupra||+1 lap|