Thed Bjork becomes 2017 WTCC champion in Qatar season finale

Volvo driver Thed Bjork clinched the 2017 World Touring Car Championship in Qatar in the final race of the season, which was won by Esteban Guerrieri

Thed Bjork becomes 2017 WTCC champion in Qatar season finale

Bjork started the race with a 16.5-point lead over Norbert Michelisz in the drivers' standings, and knew that fourth - the position from which he started the main race - in the finale would be enough to seal the title.

The Swede maintained that place on the opening lap, but was handed third on lap two by Volvo team-mate Nicky Catsburg after Michelisz had made up three places early on.

With Catsburg acting as rear gunner, Bjork was able to sit in a comfortable position on track behind the Munnich Motorsport Citroen C-Elysee of Rob Huff and count off the remaining laps.

Bjork handed third back to Catsburg on the run to the chequered flag, knowing his fourth place was enough to secure him the drivers' title by 28.5 points over Honda driver Michelisz.

That result was also enough to give Volvo the manufacturers' title, but there was some consolation for Honda as Guerrieri scored his first win of his stand in spell with the factory squad.

The Argentinian, who deputised for the injured Tiago Monteiro for the final three rounds of the season, launched well from pole position and moved across early on the run to Turn 1 to block any attempt from Catsburg to grab the lead.

As Catsburg instead found himself squeezed out by Huff through the first corner, Guerrieri made an early break and eased clear to a third win of the season by 3.708 seconds ahead of Huff, Catsburg and new champion Bjork.

Fifth across the line was Tom Chilton, who secured third in the drivers' standings and with it a maiden WTCC Independents' title, while Kris Richard was an impressive sixth in the Campos Racing Chevrolet Cruze Guerrieri had driven earlier in the season.

From 11th on the grid, Michelisz made up one position off the line and profited from a collision between Chilton, his team-mate Mehdi Bennani - who dropped back - and the third Volvo of Yvan Muller to climb to ninth.

He then passed John Filippi's Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen C-Elysee further round the opening lap, but found Muller's S60 a more difficult obstacle to clear.

The Hungarian ultimately ended up stuck behind Muller - who came out of retirement to assist Volvo's title push - for the remaining 11 laps and crossed the line in eighth.

Race two result

Pos Driver Team Car Laps Gap
1 Esteban Guerrieri Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 12 24m43.996s
2 Rob Huff Munnich Motorsport Citroen 12 3.708s
3 Nicky Catsburg Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo 12 7.319s
4 Thed Bjork Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo 12 7.466s
5 Tom Chilton Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen 12 8.785s
6 Kris Richard Campos Racing Chevrolet 12 10.589s
7 Yvan Muller Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo 12 11.459s
8 Norbert Michelisz Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 12 12.023s
9 John Filippi Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen 12 15.942s
10 Ryo Michigami Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 12 22.140s
11 Tom Coronel ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet 12 22.769s
12 Yann Ehrlacher RC Motorsport Lada 12 24.275s
13 Daniel Nagy Zengo Motorsport Honda 12 30.126s
14 Kevin Gleason RC Motorsport Lada 12 34.895s
15 Zsolt Szabo Zengo Motorsport Honda 12 48.988s
- Mehdi Bennani Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen 3 Retirement

Final drivers' standings

Pos Driver Points
1 Thed Bjork 283.5
2 Norbert Michelisz 255
3 Tom Chilton 248.5
4 Esteban Guerrieri 241
5 Nicky Catsburg 238.5
6 Mehdi Bennani 234
7 Rob Huff 215
8 Tiago Monteiro 200
9 Nestor Girolami 112
10 Yann Ehrlacher 90

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WTCC Qatar: Chilton wins race one, Bjork closes on title

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Series WTCC
Author Jack Cozens
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