Anton Andres / WTCC, Campos Racing | October 17, 2017 15:20
Esteban Guerrieri, Nestor Girolami bag wins in rain-soaked races
This year's WTCC China round was especially challenging due to the inclement weather during both the opening and main races. The opening race pushed through as planned and independent driver Esteban Guerrieri braved the soaked Ningbo Circuit to bag his second career win. The main race meanwhile was cut short after marshals declared that conditions were too dangerous, giving the win to Volvo Polestar's Nestor Girolami, his first career victory in the series.
Argentina race winner Yann Erlacher sat on pole for the main race and alongside him was John Filippi. In the second row was Nicky Catsburg and Esteban Guerrieri, sitting in third and fourth, respectively. The race had to start under the safety car due to the persistent rain bearing down on the track.
Racing began after three laps under the safety car and the drivers began picking up the pace despite the weather. With a clean track in front of him, Erlacher started strong as the rest of the field struggled with visibility. As the leader started pulling away, Catsburg was poised to take second away from Filippi. However, his Volvo twitched in one of the braking points, losing ground on the independent Frenchman. Keen to take over third was Guerrieri, who began making his move by the halfway point.
Catsburg ran wide and Guerrieri jumped on the opportunity. The latter was now catching up to Filippi afterwards. Thed Bjork meanwhile had to retire from the race following mechanical problems, and so too did Mehdi but for suspension damage. With standing water all over the track, Rob Huff and Tom Chilton crashed into each other, bringing out the safety car. Right before the safety car was deployed, Guerrieri was able to pass Filippi for second. With the field bunched up, Guerrieri was right up to the rear bumper of Erlacher.
When racing resumed, Guerrieri had a good run on the inside of Erlacher. The latter did his best to keep first but ran wide at the double apex. The two touched fenders but it was Guerrieri who was able to make his way to the lead. Catsburg was also able to claim third place from Filippi, taking the last sport on the podium. The positions would be unchanged until the end of the race, meaning Guerrieri took home his second career win with Erlacher in second and Catsburg in third.
Like the first race, the main race started with the safety car running in front of the race cars. Out in front was Nestor Girolami and beside him was Norbert Michelisz. Sitting in third was Nicky Catsburg and in fourth was Gabriele Tarquini, substituting for an injured Tiago Monteiro.
The racers continued to drive around Ningbo Circuit behind the safety car and the rains were stronger on the second lap. Water had started to form around the berms, making it more treacherous for the drivers. By the fourth lap, there was standing water on the straights and braking points. At this point, marshals declared that it was too dangerous to proceed with the race, meaning everyone's starting position would be their finishing order.
With the race cut short, only half points were awarded to the drivers.