Sochi WTCR: Ehrlacher champion, Azcona scores first win of 2021

Yann Ehrlacher secured his second consecutive World Touring Car Cup title with a safe sixth place finish in race one at a sodden Sochi, as Mikel Azcona came from eighth on the grid to score his first win of the season.

Sochi WTCR: Ehrlacher champion, Azcona scores first win of 2021
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Zengo Motorsport Cupra driver Azcona engaged in a thrilling wet-weather battle with team-mate Rob Huff and the Comtoyou Audis of Gilles Magnus and Frederic Vervisch, the latter needing victory to keep his slender title chances alive in the partially reversed-grid opener.

But Jean-Karl Vernay made a demon start from the second row to split early leader Magnus and Vervisch, as Esteban Guerrieri’s own title challenge ended in a big lap-one crash when he ran wide at the long Turn 3 and smacked into a barrier.

Following a safety car intervention, racing resumed on lap four when Vernay passed Magnus for the lead with a run on the inside of Turn 3 – and Azcona and Huff triggered a fraught and thrilling race.

Huff’s day ended in a door-to-door collision with Vervisch, as Azcona worked his way up to second in the closing stages, then pulled a great move on the brakes into Turn 2 to pass Vernay for victory on the last lap. Vervisch finished third, ahead of Magnus with a third Comtoyou Audi of Nathanael Berthon in fifth.

But it wasn’t enough to stop Ehrlacher calmly securing his second WTCR after a race in which he kept out of trouble to finish where he started in sixth.

“This feels so good,” said the 25-year-old on the radio after taking the chequered flag. “We are world champions! Twice! Yes! Come one!”

Race two will follow this afternoon, with fastest qualifier Yvan Muller starting from pole position.

Race results:

Cla # Driver Chassis Gap
1 96 Spain Mikel Azcona
CUPRA
2 69 France Jean-Karl Vernay
Hyundai 1.403
3 22 Belgium Frederic Vervisch
Audi 2.432
4 16 Belgium Gilles Magnus
Audi 2.737
5 17 France Nathanael Berthon
Audi 4.492
6 68 France Yann Ehrlacher
Lynk & Co 6.003
7 9 Hungary Attila Tassi
Honda 7.500
8 100 France Yvan Muller
Lynk & Co 8.316
9 12 Uruguay Santiago Urrutia
Lynk & Co 9.961
10 11 Sweden Thed Björk
Lynk & Co 13.554
11 29 Argentina Nestor Girolami
Honda 14.116
12 5 Hungary Norbert Michelisz
Hyundai 19.602
13 8 Germany Luca Engstler
Hyundai 21.582
14 3 Italy Gabriele Tarquini
Hyundai 22.034
15 28 Spain Jordi Gene
CUPRA 23.433
16 32 Netherlands Tom Coronel
Audi 24.781
17 55 Bence Boldizs
CUPRA 25.740
18 20 Russian Federation Kirill Ladygin
LADA 34.196
19 30 Mikhail Mityaev
LADA 39.983
79 United Kingdom Rob Huff
CUPRA 2 Laps
86 Argentina Esteban Guerrieri
Honda

 

Yann Ehrlacher, Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR

Yann Ehrlacher, Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR

Photo by: WTCR

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