Macau WTCR: Yvan Muller controls opener amid Lynk & Co team orders

Yvan Muller controlled the opening Macau Guia Race, as Andy Priaulx was denied a first podium since his return to World Touring Cars when Cyan Racing implemented team orders

Muller started the race from pole and converted that into an early lead, while Norbert Michelisz moved to tuck in behind the Lynk & Co 03 and also repel any chance of attack from third-place starter Priaulx.

After pulling out a lead of 1.122 seconds on the opening lap, Muller spent the remaining seven laps with under a second in hand over Michelisz but was never threatened by the BRC Racing Hyundai driver in a tame first WTCR race of the weekend.

A third victory of the season elevates Lynk & Co driver Muller above Cyan team-mate Thed Bjork for third in the championship standings, in which he is 36 points behind new leader Michelisz.

Muller should have led a Cyan 1-3 on the podium, until Priaulx moved over out of Fisherman's Bend on the final lap to boost Bjork's place in the order.

The final spot on the podium instead went to the Alfa Romeo Giulietta of Kevin Ceccon, who made a sluggish getaway but was boosted in the order by both Priaulx and Yann Ehrlacher deliberately dropping back.

Rob Huff was fourth in his Sebastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI ahead of Bjork, with Priaulx sixth over the line after fending off Frederic Vervisch's efforts to capitalise on his moving over.

Ehrlacher, who had pulled the same team move as Priaulx early on in the race, was eighth in the fourth Lynk & Co 03, while the BRC Hyundais of defending champion Gabriele Tarquini and Nicky Catsburg completed the top 10.

Robert Dahlgren scored points in his first race back in World Touring Cars, finishing 13th for the PWR Cupra team. The sole remaining wildcard in the field Billy Lo was the last driver to finish on the lead lap in 23rd.

Michelisz's second-place finish means he now has an 18-point advantage over Munnich Motorsport Honda driver Esteban Guerrieri.

The Argentinian started the race from the back of the grid due to an engine change after first qualifying and, though he made some progress through the field, he lost a lap when he stopped in the pits and was classified 25th.

He was due to start Sunday's reversed-grid race from pole, but was handed a three-place grid penalty on Friday evening for an altercation with Catsburg.

Race one result

Pos Driver Team Car Laps Gap
1 Yvan Muller Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 8 20m30.047s
2 Norbert Michelisz BRC Squadra Corse Hyundai 8 0.405s
3 Kevin Ceccon Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo 8 1.644s
4 Rob Huff SLR VW Motorsport Volkswagen 8 2.153s
5 Thed Bjork Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 8 2.882s
6 Andy Priaulx Cyan Performance Lynk & Co 8 3.169s
7 Frederic Vervisch Comtoyou Audi Audi 8 3.397s
8 Yann Ehrlacher Cyan Performance Lynk & Co 8 4.704s
9 Gabriele Tarquini BRC Squadra Corse Hyundai 8 4.918s
10 Nicky Catsburg BRC Racing Team Hyundai 8 5.921s
11 Johan Kristoffersson SLR Volkswagen Volkswagen 8 6.576s
12 Aurelien Panis Comtoyou Cupra Cupra 8 8.174s
13 Robert Dahlgren PWR Racing Cupra 8 10.155s
14 Nestor Girolami Munnich Motorsport Honda 8 12.134s
15 Tiago Monteiro KCMG Honda 8 12.946s
16 Luca Engstler BRC Racing Team Hyundai 8 13.543s
17 Mehdi Bennani SLR VW Motorsport Volkswagen 8 13.967s
18 Attila Tassi KCMG Honda 8 20.708s
19 Mikel Azcona PWR Racing Cupra 8 27.199s
20 Tom Coronel Comtoyou Cupra Cupra 8 28.746s
21 Jean-Karl Vernay WRT Audi 8 34.821s
22 Benjamin Leuchter SLR Volkswagen Volkswagen 8 40.324s
23 Billy Lo Tian Shi Zuver Team Audi 8 45.767s
24 Esteban Guerrieri Munnich Motorsport Honda 7 1 Lap
- Niels Langeveld Comtoyou Audi Audi 5 Retirement
- Ma Qinghua Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo 5 Retirement
- Gordon Shedden WRT Audi 0 Withdrawn
- Jim Ka To KC Motorgroup Honda 0 Withdrawn

Previous article Macau WTCR: Shedden's WRT Audi withdrawn after qualifying crash
Next article Macau WTCR: Yvan Muller seals win double from fifth on the grid