WTCR Japan: Kristoffersson wins as Guerrieri holds points lead

Johan Kristoffersson stormed to his second World Touring Car Cup victory in the final race at Suzuka, as Tiago Monteiro forfeited second to boost Honda stablemate Esteban Guerrieri's points lead

WTCR Japan: Kristoffersson wins as Guerrieri holds points lead

Sebastien Loeb Racing driver Kristoffersson was beaten off the line by a fast-starting Monteiro, who appeared to have sealed the lead.

But Kristofferssons stayed on Monteiro's bumper through the first corner, then muscled his Volkswagen Golf GTI up the inside of the Honda Civic Type R driver to reclaim first.

An early safety car kept the leading pack together, but Kristoffersson soon pulled clear of the pursuing Hondas and was only denied a winning margin of five seconds by the deployment of the safety car for a second time on the final lap.

Guerrieri was gifted third at the start when fellow second-row starter Mikel Azcona stalled, but spent the majority of the race behind Monteiro while he and his KCMG team queried whether Kristoffersson's pass to reclaim the lead had been legal.

Race control did not indicate this would be investigated at any point, though, and Monteiro finally allowed Munnich Motorsport driver Guerrieri through on the antepenultimate lap.

Monteiro should have claimed third from there, but a bizarre turn of events meant he instead finished fourth.

While it was initially unclear how he had been classified behind the Alfa Romeo Giulietta of Kevin Ceccon, replays showed Monteiro cutting across the grass at the final corner behind the safety car after initially committing to the pitlane.

He was able to repass the leading Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 03 of Thed Bjork, but did not catch up to Ceccon's Alfa before the chequered flag.

However, both Ceccon and Monteiro received post-race penalties - Ceccon for contact while passing Rob Huff, and Monteiro for his pitlane incident - that dropped them to sixth and 10th respectively.

That opened the door for Bjork to claim the final podium spot ahead of Gabriele Tarquini, while Andy Priaulx - who was involved in a controversial race-one clash with Nicky Catsburg - moved up to fifth ahead of Ceccon and Huff (Volkswagen Golf GTI).

Guerrieri's second place moved him back into the points lead, after he had briefly been overtaken by BRC Racing driver Norbert Michelisz - who won Sunday morning's first race from the reversed-grid pole position.

Michelisz first moved across to block second-place starter Huff on the approach to the first corner, running the Volkswagen driver into the pitlane exit in order to secure an early lead.

Michelisz, who was shown a black and white driving standards flag for that action, gradually eased into a one-second lead in the first half of the race, but Huff came back at him late on and spent the closing laps within four tenths of the Hyundai driver.

Huff's Volkswagen did not have enough grunt to challenge Michelisz, though, allowing the Hungarian to claim a fourth win of the season - the biggest one-season tally he has managed in his World Touring Car career.

Michelisz's team-mate Tarquini completed the podium in race two, having also resisted intense pressure from Ceccon.

Ceccon spent the majority of the race in Tarquini's slipstream but his best chance came on the penultimate lap as he moved to the outside on the approach to the first corner.

While he was able to get his nose ahead of his Italian compatriot, Ceccon was tapped out wide by Tarquini, who was then able to hold the position to the finish.

Bjork also finished fifth in that encounter, a pair of results that moved him ahead of team-mate Yvan Muller for third in the drivers' standings.

Race two result - 24 laps

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Norbert Michelisz BRC Squadra Corse Hyundai 22m01.538s
2 Rob Huff SLR VW Motorsport Volkswagen 0.293s
3 Gabriele Tarquini BRC Squadra Corse Hyundai 8.205s
4 Kevin Ceccon Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo 8.531s
5 Thed Bjork Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 11.102s
6 Tiago Monteiro KCMG Honda 11.330s
7 Johan Kristoffersson SLR Volkswagen Volkswagen 11.699s
8 Mikel Azcona PWR Racing Cupra 12.114s
9 Jean-Karl Vernay WRT Audi 12.883s
10 Esteban Guerrieri Munnich Motorsport Honda 18.072s
11 Nestor Girolami Munnich Motorsport Honda 19.580s
12 Benjamin Leuchter SLR Volkswagen Volkswagen 19.773s
13 Frederic Vervisch Comtoyou Audi Audi 19.958s
14 Yvan Muller Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 20.134s
15 Yann Ehrlacher Cyan Performance Lynk & Co 20.367s
16 Andy Priaulx Cyan Performance Lynk & Co 20.741s
17 Ryuichiro Tomita Audi Hitotsuyama Audi 21.025s
18 Nicky Catsburg BRC Racing Team Hyundai 21.517s
19 Aurelien Panis Comtoyou Cupra Cupra 22.517s
20 Gordon Shedden WRT Audi 26.168s
21 Augusto Farfus BRC Racing Team Hyundai 28.366s
22 Tom Coronel Comtoyou Cupra Cupra 29.493s
23 Ma Qinghua Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo 30.037s
24 Attila Tassi KCMG Honda 32.744s
25 Ritomo Miyata Audi Hitotsuyama Audi 32.902s
26 Daniel Haglof PWR Racing Cupra 33.112s
27 Mehdi Bennani SLR VW Motorsport Volkswagen 33.504s
28 Jim Ka To KC Motorgroup Honda 52.139s
- Niels Langeveld Comtoyou Audi Audi Retirement

Race three result - 30 laps

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Johan Kristoffersson SLR Volkswagen Volkswagen 30m07.581s
2 Esteban Guerrieri Munnich Motorsport Honda 3.070s
3 Thed Bjork Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 11.063s
4 Gabriele Tarquini BRC Squadra Corse Hyundai 11.715s
5 Andy Priaulx Cyan Performance Lynk & Co 12.545s
6 Kevin Ceccon Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo 12.586s
7 Rob Huff SLR VW Motorsport Volkswagen 13.104s
8 Norbert Michelisz BRC Squadra Corse Hyundai 13.864s
9 Jean-Karl Vernay WRT Audi 14.838s
10 Benjamin Leuchter SLR Volkswagen Volkswagen 18.942s
11 Frederic Vervisch Comtoyou Audi Audi 19.252s
12 Nestor Girolami Munnich Motorsport Honda 19.770s
13 Yvan Muller Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 19.952s
14 Nicky Catsburg BRC Racing Team Hyundai 20.340s
15 Tiago Monteiro KCMG Honda 20.394s
16 Attila Tassi KCMG Honda 22.087s
17 Aurelien Panis Comtoyou Cupra Cupra 23.476s
18 Mikel Azcona PWR Racing Cupra 24.001s
19 Yann Ehrlacher Cyan Performance Lynk & Co 26.812s
20 Gordon Shedden WRT Audi 27.669s
21 Jim Ka To KC Motorgroup Honda 40.961s
22 Augusto Farfus BRC Racing Team Hyundai 51.068s
- Ryuichiro Tomita Audi Hitotsuyama Audi Retirement
- Daniel Haglof PWR Racing Cupra Retirement
- Niels Langeveld Comtoyou Audi Audi Retirement
- Ma Qinghua Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Retirement
- Mehdi Bennani SLR VW Motorsport Volkswagen Retirement
- Tom Coronel Comtoyou Cupra Cupra Retirement
- Ritomo Miyata Audi Hitotsuyama Audi Retirement


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