July 28, 2021

WTCR, Estoril: Attila Tassi wins, bad luck steals victory for Tiago Monteiro

When we thought that everything had already happened to Tiago Monteiro, here comes more misfortune that will be etched in the Portuguese pilot’s memory. A loose bonnet robbed him of a victory that was almost certain.

Monteiro started the race as the championship leader, starting from the front row and with the prospect of scoring a lot of points, winking at victory. The race even started well for Monteiro, taking advantage of the bad start of Esteban Guerrieri (Honda). Monteiro climbed to first and kept ahead while the fights for position bubbled up behind him. Tom Coronel (Audi) had an exit from the track after a touch that forced the Safety Car to enter.

At the start, Monteiro kept the lead, followed by Attila Tassi (Honda), Jean-Karl Vernay (Hyundai), Santiago Urrutia (Lynk & Co) and Norbert Michelisz (Hyundai).

Fights in the middle of the pack were constant and with Nathanael Berthon, Mikel Azcona and Nestor Girolami involved in a heated battle for 14th position but at the front of the race Monteiro controlled operations and maintained a healthy safety margin for his teammate Tassi , who was beginning to feel the pressure from Vernay.

The distance widened and with Tassi more worried about what was happening in his rearview mirror, the attack on Monteiro was unlikely at this stage, so the experienced Portuguese driver could manage the race in the best way. On lap 9 Tassi served as a buffer to Vernay, who already had Michelisz behind him.

Guerrieri was trying to recover from the bad start and after having walked close to the tail of the pack he was 12th in the middle of the race, behind Yvan Muller (Lynk & Co).

On lap 10 we had a theater coup. The afternoon that seemed to smile to Monteiro turned black with the hood of his car partially opening which led to the display of a black and orange flag. Tassi was behind the Portuguese leader, bringing with him Vernay, Michelisz and Gabriele Tarquini, but with the car in these conditions, the #18 had to enter the box and so Tassi took the lead in the race, with the Hyundai trio pressing each time more. #18 fell to the back of the pack.

Tassi tried to hold the Hyundai as he could, but the task was getting harder and harder for the young Hungarian, who nevertheless kept ahead. Despite some mistakes, Tassi managed to hold on to first place, crossing the finish line first, followed by Vernay and Michelisz, with Tarquini and Urrutia completing the top 5.

Honda ended up leaving Estoril disappointed as it showed more than enough progress to put more than one car on the podium. But with Nestor Girolami coming out of the end (due to the accident in race 1), with Guerrieri’s mishap and Monteiro’s tremendous misfortune, there is a bitter taste in the mouth. For Hyundai and Lynk & Co it was a good weekend with podiums and many accumulated points. The Cupra and Audi were a hole under and never managed to match the pace of the front men.