Honda drivers dig deep for results in tough Bahrain opener
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.
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.