The Argentinian leapt from third on the grid into the lead at the first corner and, followed by the second-place car, made an early escape in the opening laps while others were delayed by a clash at Turn 4.
Esteban maintained the lead for the opening four laps but was then passed into Turn 1. Though he gallantly kept pace in the laps immediately afterwards, he ultimately crossed the line just over a second behind the race winner.
Second still matched his best finish of 2022, a result he also secured at the season opener in Pau, and lifted him to eighth in the standings with two races of the campaign remaining to climb more places.
ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport team-mate Nestor Girolami dug in deep in Race Two to ensure he heads to the season finale in Jeddah in mathematical contention for the WTCR title.
‘Bebu’ had a good start in Race Two, climbing to fifth after avoiding the Turn 4 melee, but his performance was affected by running in the dirty air of cars ahead.
Though he fought valiantly, he had little defence against cars with superior straightline speed and finished the race ninth.
He therefore ended the weekend 60 points behind the standings leader, with 65 points on offer in Saudi Arabia in two weeks’ time.
It’s a nice feeling to be back here in the podium positions. I had a lot more confidence in the car than yesterday, mostly on the brakes, and the pace was surprisingly good. I had to play it tactically because it was so hot; it was going to be difficult for me because the cars behind had better pace this weekend. Once I’d been passed I tried to do something in the corners that followed, but once you’re behind another car you lose downforce and that’s it. This has been a long time coming but all the guys at ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport deserve this, so let’s hope this can be the foundation to finish the season on a high.
It was a tough race. The car felt better in the night race when we started near the front, and it was probably the same for Esteban today; when we are in front without anyone blocking us we can just about stay with the pace, but when we’re in the pack having three or four cars in front starts to disturb the downforce and the car has no grip and no power, so you can’t defend. The championship looks very hard now but it’s not finished, so we’ll be in maximum attack for Jeddah and see where that leaves us.