Esteban Guerrieri and ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport remain on top of the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup standings, despite a day of incredible difficulty at Ningbo International Speedpark, China.
The Argentinian, who had qualified ninth during the morning, suffered a disastrous start to Saturday’s opening race as he accidentally set of his Honda Civic Type R TCR’s in-car fire extinguisher on the grid just as the formation lap was about to start.
Having pushed his car into the pitlane, the team’s mechanics launched an instant clean-up operation, and after a superhuman effort, were able to send their man on his way for a pitlane start.
A superb recovery brought Esteban from 26th to 19th in just 13 laps, but with team-mate Nestor Girolami finishing only 15th, Civic Type R TCR drivers scored just one point on the day.
Bebu’s qualifying performance had been affected by a throttle-sensor problem on his first planned run on fresh tyres, and a mistake on his final run that led to him abandoning the session and starting 17th.
The results mean that Esteban’s series lead has been reduced to nine points while Münnich are 40 clear in the Teams’ standings.
KCMG drivers Tiago Monteiro and Attila Tassi – both of whom were competing at Ningbo for the first time – made excellent progress in second practice; the duo gaining significantly compared to Friday.
They started 20th and 23rd with Tiago, in particular, making a tremendous start to climb into the points-paying top 15 after just four corners.
Multiple contact midway round the lap left him with steering damage for the remainder of the 13-lap race. He and Attila finished 21st and 23rd.