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WTCR Vila Real: Azcona gets first win after Ma Qing Hua joker error

Azcona Vila Real WTCR 2019

PWR Racing's Mikel Azcona claimed his first World Touring Car Cup victory in the second race at Vila Real after a joker lap mistake from Team Mulsanne's Ma Qing Hua.

Azcona started third and made his own joker on the fifth lap of 11 to keep the pressure on leader Ma. Ma went too deep in the joker and lost out to Azcona after clumsily bouncing over the kerbs on entry.

Championship leader Esteban Guerrieri restored his points advantage over Norbert Michelisz with a well-deserved third place finish, as three of the four Hyundai drivers hit trouble.

Race one winner Michelisz started a lowly 16th after trouble in qualifying but was forced out following contact with the second Alfa Romeo of Kevin Ceccon.

Michelisz received a drivethrough penalty for his part in this incident, but his race was ultimately over due to extensive damage on the front left-hand corner.

Gabriele Tarquini and Augusto Farfus, who both started from the back of the grid following post-qualifying engine changes, also retired.

At the start, Ma got the jump on fellow front-row starter Guerrieri and Azcona as joker lap strategies dictated the pace of the majority of the pack.

The Cyan Racing Lynk & Cos were the first to implement 'backing up" strategies, with Yann Ehrlacher making a gap for his uncle Yvan Muller to fit in.

This tactic worked not only for Muller but also for Ehrlacher as KCMG Honda duo Tiago Monteiro and race three polesitter Attila Tassi did likewise.

Monteiro and Tassi secured ninth and tenth place finishes as a result, with Ehrlacher ending up eighth and one place ahead of Guerrieri's Munnich Motorsport team-mate Nestor Girolami.

Having successfully jumped Guerrieri at the joker lap, Azcona then set a number of fastest lap times to close to within two-and-a-half seconds of Ma before the latter's turn to go through the joker.

Ma Qing Hua Vila Real WTCR 2019

Ma locked up slightly on entry and lost a handful of time to the reigning TCR Europe champion, who eventually opened up a 4.832s winning margin at the finish.

Jean-Karl Vernay finished fourth in his Team Audi Sport RS3 LMS, nipping past the sole-remaining BRC Racing Hyundai i30 N of Nicky Catsburg, who tried in vain to hold up Guerrieri before his joker two laps from home.

Championship contender Thed Bjork salvaged two points in his Cyan Racing Lynk & Co after starting 15th.

Bjork attempted to get past the Frederic Vervisch in the closing laps, and only just avoided the back of his rival's Audi after missing his braking point at the Turn 18 chicane.

Result - 11 laps

1Mikel AzconaPWR RacingCupra22m36.529s
2Ma QinghuaTeam MulsanneAlfa Romeo4.832s
3Esteban GuerrieriMunnich MotorsportHonda5.538s
4Jean-Karl VernayWRTAudi6.812s
5Nicky CatsburgBRC Racing TeamHyundai7.482s
6Yvan MullerCyan RacingLynk & Co9.221s
7Rob HuffSLR VW MotorsportVolkswagen9.537s
8Yann EhrlacherCyan PerformanceLynk & Co11.374s
9Nestor GirolamiMunnich MotorsportHonda14.253s
10Tiago MonteiroKCMGHonda14.626s
11Attila TassiKCMGHonda15.109s
12Frederic VervischComtoyou AudiAudi19.969s
13Thed BjorkCyan RacingLynk & Co20.988s
14Johan KristofferssonSLR VolkswagenVolkswagen22.388s
15Andy PriaulxCyan PerformanceLynk & Co25.873s
16Aurelien PanisComtoyou CupraCupra26.825s
17Benjamin LeuchterSLR VolkswagenVolkswagen27.787s
18Niels LangeveldComtoyou AudiAudi30.562s
19Mehdi BennaniSLR VW MotorsportVolkswagen31.255s
20Gordon SheddenWRTAudi34.815s
21Daniel HaglofPWR RacingCupra35.585s
-Tom CoronelComtoyou CupraCupraDisqualified
-Gabriele TarquiniBRC Squadra CorseHyundaiRetirement
-Norbert MicheliszBRC Squadra CorseHyundaiRetirement
-Kevin CecconTeam MulsanneAlfa RomeoRetirement
-Augusto FarfusBRC Racing TeamHyundaiRetirement

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