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Rio Hondo WTCC: Michelisz wins for Honda after Catsburg puncture

Honda's Norbert Michelisz grabbed his second World Touring Car Championship victory of 2017 in the main Termas de Rio Hondo race after long-time leader Nicky Catsburg's Volvo suffered a puncture

Michelisz failed to score a point in the first race due to a puncture of his own on the opening lap, but inherited his second victory in as many WTCC rounds in the second half of the main event as Catsburg suffered a second catastrophic tyre failure of the weekend.

Catsburg jumped away from pole at the start of the race to head the field into the first corner, with Michelisz defending his second place on the grid from team-mate Tiago Monteiro.

Having fended off the sister Honda's attentions, Michelisz stayed with Catsburg early on but forfeited six tenths of a second in the space of two laps in the middle of the race, as Catsburg began to build a comfortable lead.

But disaster struck on lap eight of the 13-lap race for Catsburg, who picked up a left-front puncture for a second race in a row, crushing his own hopes of a second victory of 2017.

With Monteiro in tow, Michelisz nurtured his Civic home in the closing laps to head a comfortable one-two - Honda's second of the season and its first since the opening round in Marrakech.

Monteiro's second place allowed him to extend his points lead over third-place finisher Thed Bjork, whose third podium from four races restored some pride for Volvo.

Home Argentinian driver Esteban Guerrieri backed up a podium finish in the opening race with a fine fourth in the main event, finishing five seconds behind Bjork in his Campos Racing Chevrolet Cruze.

Sebastien Loeb Racing team-mates Mehdi Bennani and Tom Chilton were separated by the second Volvo of Nestor Girolami, with Chilton dragging his understeering Citroen C-Elysee to seventh after contact at the first corner.

Chilton finished the opening race first on the road but was demoted to fourth for a brusque move on RC Motorsport driver Yann Ehrlacher for the lead.

He finished ahead of the Lada fair and square in the second race as Ehrlacher defended from Munnich Motorsport's Rob Huff.

RESULTS - 13 LAPS:

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Norbert Michelisz Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 22m39.375s
2 Tiago Monteiro Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 0.505s
3 Thed Bjork Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo 1.381s
4 Esteban Guerrieri Campos Racing Chevrolet 6.379s
5 Mehdi Bennani Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen 14.281s
6 Nestor Girolami Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo 14.675s
7 Tom Chilton Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen 20.386s
8 Yann Ehrlacher RC Motorsport Lada 20.750s
9 Rob Huff Munnich Motorsport Citroen 20.999s
10 Tom Coronel ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet 21.983s
11 Ryo Michigami Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 22.361s
12 John Filippi Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen 22.989s
13 Kevin Gleason RC Motorsport Lada 26.701s
14 Daniel Nagy Zengo Motorsport Honda 39.996s
15 Zsolt Szabo Zengo Motorsport Honda 40.437s
16 Nicky Catsburg Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo 1 Lap

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:

Pos Driver Points
1 Tiago Monteiro 200
2 Thed Bjork 188
3 Norbert Michelisz 171
4 Mehdi Bennani 164
5 Nicky Catsburg 159
6 Tom Chilton 147
7 Rob Huff 135
8 Esteban Guerrieri 113
9 Nestor Girolami 68
10 Yann Ehrlacher 45
11 Tom Coronel 34
12 John Filippi 15
13 Kevin Gleason 2
14 Ryo Michigami 2
15 Aurelien Panis 2
16 Daniel Nagy 1

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