Round five reveals Vila Real joker lap for RML Chevy Cruze TC1s
Wellingborough (UK) – 29th June 2017:
The World Touring Car Championship headed to Vila Real in Portugal for the fifth round of the series.
Saturday’s FP1 was the first time both RML Chevrolet Cruze TC1s of Campos Racing’s Esteban Guerrieri and ROAL Motorsport’s Tom Coronel were able to navigate the newly implemented joker lap format. It had initially been planned to enter into the championship’s sporting regulations in Marrakech for the 2017 season opener but this was cancelled due to circuit restrictions. Located at the circuit’s final corner, Turn 26, the joker lap cannot be taken until the third lap of the race and adds approximately two seconds to a driver’s time.
It was during this first session that Coronel, who was 14th, ended his race weekend after crashing into a stationary fire truck when his front left wheel failed leaving him unable to brake for Turn 23. Coronel’s Chev Cruze which experienced 25G on impact is now being repaired where it will rejoin the championship for the next event in Argentina.
In qualifying Guerrieri went on to take eighth, placing him third for Sunday’s opening race behind Polestar Cyan Racing’s Néstor Girolami and Honda Racing Team JAS driver Ryo Michigami on pole for the first time after setting 10th position.
Mehdi Bennani claimed victory for Sébastien Loeb Racing in the opening race having started fourth, gaining full advantage of a slow start from the race leaders. Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team’s Tiago Monteiro and Polestar Cyan Racing’s Thed Bjork completed the podium. Guerrieri was forced into retirement on the first lap of 11 suffering a bent rear wishbone after being hit on the rear left corner by the Volvo of Néstor Girolami.
Starting out in eighth for the main race taken from qualifying results, Guerrieri held his RML Chevy Cruze in position around the 4.79 km circuit crossing the line in the points. Castrol Honda’s Norbert Michelisz dominated the 13 lap race from pole and it was a double podium finish for Thed Bjork and Tiago Monteiro finishing second and third respectively.
Guerrieri remains eighth in the championship with 80 points, while Coronel is fixed at 10th and 31 points. Circuito Termas de Río Hondo in Argentina will host the WTCC for the fourth consecutive year with rounds 11 and 12 commencing on 14th July.