Norbert Michelisz scored his first World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) race win of the season in the opening event at the Nurbrurging today, kicking his championship challenge well and truly into gear.
Michelisz got a great start off the line and swooped past Esteban Guerrieri for the race lead on entry to turn one. Frederic Vervisch was another early mover, taking his Audi up into the podium spots after overtaking Nestor Girolami further round the Grand Prix loop.
Yvan Muller‘s race came to an end almost immediately, however. Contact with Rob Huff and the rear of team-mate Yann Ehrlacher, left his car’s suspension hobbled by the end of the first corner. By contrast, Muller’s title rival from last year – Gabriele Tarquini – had made his way up from tenth to fifth before the cars had even reached the first part of the Nordschleife.
Gordon Shedden was the second driver to drop out of the race. Having started 22nd, the Scotsman had made good progress until contact between himself, Tiago Monteiro and Daniel Haglof left his Audi with similar damage to the Lynk & Co of Muller. Despite initially carrying on, Haglof also retired due to damage sustained in the incident as the cars entered turn one on the start of lap two.
Gabriele Tarquini’s woeful luck at the Nurburgring then became all too apparent once again. From fifth position, the reigning champion dropped out of the race with a steering fault on lap two.
Towards the front, Norbert Michelisz had begun to create a commanding lead over Esteban Guerrieri, but there was a terrific battle going on for third. Nestor Girolami was very keen to regain the place he lost to Frederic Vervisch at the start of the race, and as the cars came onto the Dottinger Hohe for the second time, he used the powers of slip-streaming to his advantage.
Drawing up alongside the Audi of Vervisch, both drivers came very close to making side-by-side contact throughout the legendarily long straight. As such, their ultimate pace was compromised, leaving the door open for Rob Huff to make a fantastic overtaking manoeuvre.
Picking up the aerodynamic tow from both cars, Huff closed up behind them before sweeping to the inside, claiming two positions in one courageous move.
However, this meant that Rob Huff would be a sitting duck the following time around. And indeed, as the cars entered the Dottinger Hohe for the third and final time, Girolami slip-streamed up alongside on the inside line. But Huff then edged back in front as the aerodynamics at play fell his way, before finally relinquishing the position to Girolami who got a second burst of speed as soon as the Volkswagen got ahead again.
Contact was made at least twice as the cars charged along at maximum speed, leaving the drivers having to use all of their skill to keep themselves planted and avoid an accident. None of it was intentional though as the cars were simply buffeted around, and both drivers were more than happy with the state of play after the race had ended.
Out in front though, nobody could touch Norbert Michelisz who scampered away to claim his first race victory of the season in dominant fashion. Esteban Guerrieri limited the damage by coming home in second, but nonetheless, the result catapults Michelisz up from fourth to second; making him Guerrieri’s nearest challenger in the title race now.
Top 15 Standings
|Position||Driver||Car||Gap to Winner (Seconds)||Points Gained|
|6th||Yann Ehrlacher||Lynk & Co||+7.239||10|
|11th||Thed Bjork||Lynk & Co||+8.975||5|