Race 1
WTCR 2022
Round 8

Honda drivers dig deep for results in tough Bahrain opener

bh Bahrain International Circuit

Nestor Girolami scored an impressive fourth place as he and his fellow Honda Racing drivers battled their way through the opening race of the Bahrain WTCR - FIA World Touring Car Cup weekend.

Honda drivers dig deep for results in tough Bahrain opener

Argentinian Nestor’s result came hours after he had continued his excellent run with the Honda Civic Type R TCR in qualifying in 2022 by taking third in the Q3 shootout session, which earned him six points in his title bid.

Though he retained that position at the start of the night race, he was ultimately powerless to prevent two cars with greater straightline speed from coming through despite his best efforts to defend.

Those efforts still proved worthwhile though as ‘Bebu’ was classified fourth once one of the cars that passed him received a five-second penalty, meaning he has now recorded his best season in the WTCR in terms of points scored.

The result also means Nestor and the current points leader are the only contenders left in the Drivers’ Championship fight with three races remaining.

ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport team-mate Esteban Guerrieri played his part too as he fought his way to eighth place.

Having qualified in the same position, Esteban was delayed on the opening lap when a car overshot at the Turn 8 hairpin.

He regrouped and ran in seventh during the first half of the race, keeping at bay a faster car for a number of laps before eventually ceding position through Turns 1 and 2 at the end of the long main straight.

His run to eighth from there was uneventful, but the 10 points he earned nevertheless provided a valuable contribution to ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport’s Teams’ Championship total.

Attila Tassi came home one place further back in his LIQUI MOLY Team Engstler Civic Type R TCR, but that was in no way indicative of his potential in Race One.

From sixth on the grid, the result of a strong qualifying in which he missed out on a Q3 slot by one thousandth of a second, Attila bolted through to fourth at the start - ensuring Nestor had a clean run through the opening corners while doing so.

He lost one position on the main straight at the end of the first lap, but was involved in an entertaining dice for fifth with two other cars when he was needlessly tapped into a half-spin at the Turn 9/10 double-left-hander, which cost the Hungarian three positions.

Attila kept touch with the pack ahead as well as he could, but was eventually dragged into another battle with faster cars behind and fought well to keep ninth place in the classification.

Team-mate Tiago Monteiro was another unable to avoid falling back despite an encouraging start and was 12th at the finish.

From 13th on the grid, Tiago executed a strong opening lap to run in ninth but encountered a dramatic increase in tyre degradation during the race - the Civic Type R TCR carrying the maximum 40kg compensation weight in Bahrain.

Degradation will also be a concern in Saturday’s Race Two, which begins at 10am local time on Saturday.

Néstor Girolami
Néstor Girolami 29
ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport
I think everyone can see the lack of speed we had in today’s race. We can be pretty quick over one lap, but then on race pace with the weight we have, combined with the long straights here, we cannot hit the same performance as the others. We really suffer when we visit this kind of track. But we knew this starting the weekend and tried to get the best grid position we could for Race One because it’s cooler tonight than it will be tomorrow, so we can be pleased with this result there and in the race. It’s not what we wanted because we need to reduce the gap to the points leader. But it was difficult to do that; his car was on another level.

Esteban Guerrieri
Esteban Guerrieri 86
ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport
Some points, in the end. The first lap was a bit of a struggle with a car overshooting at the hairpin, which meant I had to go wide and lost a couple of positions as a result. I had a fun, and fair, fight after that and it was nice to be involved for as long as I was, but it wasn’t easy. We lacked pace compared to our competitors and personally I struggled a lot with the brakes right from the beginning; it was difficult to manage my braking points as the race went on. But even so we scored good points for the Teams’ Championship, so it was a good team effort.

Attila Tassi
Attila Tassi 9
LIQUI MOLY Team Engstler
I had an excellent start and was challenging for third, but I backed out and chose not to fight Nestor to help him out. After that, the Hyundais and Audis just came so quickly at me on the straights and I couldn’t really fight back, let alone attack them. One of them pushed me wide at Turn 9 and I got crossed up, which cost me many positions. I don’t think the five-second penalty he got for this was fair because he was already that far ahead of me within a few laps, despite the big pace advantage we had when extracting the maximum in qualifying. Tomorrow is another race, with a top-five start to chase decent points.

Tiago Monteiro
Tiago Monteiro 18
LIQUI MOLY Team Engstler
We knew Bahrain could be a bit problematic with the compensation weight we’re carrying and so it’s proved. Qualifying was not ideal and the car had more in it, for sure, but in the race I was just struggling so much. I tried to survive the first two or three laps and it didn’t look so bad, actually. I profited a bit from a crash ahead but pace-wise it felt OK and I wasn’t pushing too hard, just thinking about the tyres, but suddenly the degradation became far worse than we expected. We need to think about that, especially because tomorrow is going to be hotter, but there’s only so much we can do with weight - there won’t be a sizeable difference.

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