WTCR Marrakech: Tarquini leads home Muller in Hyundai 1-2-3

Gabriele Tarquini negotiated two safety car periods to win his second race of the season-opening World Touring Car Cup round in Marrakech, as Hyundai cars locked out the podium places

WTCR Marrakech: Tarquini leads home Muller in Hyundai 1-2-3

Tarquini resisted a challenge from YMR's Thed Bjork for the majority of the race before being allowed a clear run to the finish when Bjork handed second to his team-mate Yvan Muller late on.

As Tarquini leapt away from pole position at the start of the race, Muller chopped over to the left-hand side of the grid to block off the second BRC Hyundai of Norbert Michelisz.

That delayed both drivers, with Michelisz running into the back of Muller's i30 N, and allowed Bjork to sweep around the outside into second.

Yann Ehrlacher also got past Michelisz for fourth in his Honda Civic.

As he had done in Saturday's first race, Tarquini managed a gap of a less than a second back to Bjork as the top two escaped from Muller in the first part of the race - with the Frenchman instead forced to focus on keeping nephew Ehrlacher at bay.

A first safety car period was initiated at the end of lap eight to allow marshals to recover the stricken Comtoyou Audi of Frederic Vervisch, who ended up in the run-off area at Turn 7 when his brakes appeared to fail and he narrowly avoided wiping out Pepe Oriola.

The race resumed two laps later but was neutralised again when Aurelien Panis hit the wall exiting Turn 6 after making contact with the Peugeot of Mato Homola as the pair came out of the Turns 4/5 chicane.

The safety car was brought in at the end of lap 17 of the new 23-lap distance, and 2017 WTCC champion Bjork stayed with Tarquini on the restart as Muller again left a gap between himself and the sister YMR car.

But after a couple more laps following Tarquini, Bjork ended his challenge for the lead when he ceded second to Muller on lap 19 of 23, slotting back in between his team-mate and Ehrlacher.

That left Tarquini with a comfortable run to the flag, winning by 2.524 seconds from Muller as Bjork beat Ehrlacher to the final podium spot.

Michelisz reported an oil temperature issue in his gearbox before the first safety car period but was told to continue by his BRC team.

He resisted a challenge from the two Sebastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi cars of Mehdi Bennani and Rob Huff to claim fifth.

James Thompson grabbed another points finish in his Munnich Motorsport Honda in eighth, ahead of race two winner Jean-Karl Vernay in the leading Audi.

Oriola scored the final point after beating team-mate John Filippi in the second Campos Racing Cupra and Tom Coronel's Boutsen Ginion Honda.

Three-time British Touring Car champion Gordon Shedden was classified 18th and four laps down after visiting the pits.

Result - 23 laps

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Gabriele Tarquini BRC Racing Team Hyundai 35m32.310s
2 Yvan Muller YMR Hyundai 2.524s
3 Thed Bjork YMR Hyundai 2.922s
4 Yann Ehrlacher Munnich Motorsport Honda 4.645s
5 Norbert Michelisz BRC Racing Team Hyundai 5.937s
6 Mehdi Bennani Sebastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen 6.631s
7 Rob Huff Sebastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen 8.121s
8 James Thompson Munnich Motorsport Honda 9.932s
9 Jean-Karl Vernay WRT Audi 10.743s
10 Pepe Oriola Campos Racing Cupra 13.740s
11 John Filippi Campos Racing Cupra 14.599s
12 Tom Coronel Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda 14.838s
13 Mat'o Homola DG Sport Competition Peugeot 16.011s
14 Esteban Guerrieri Munnich Motorsport Honda 16.475s
15 Norbert Nagy Zengo Motorsport Cupra 18.464s
16 Aurelien Panis Comtoyou Racing Audi 19.526s
17 Benjamin Lessennes Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda 20.205s
18 Gordon Shedden WRT Audi 4 Laps
19 Fabrizio Giovanardi Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo 6 Laps
- Nathanael Berthon Comtoyou Racing Audi Retirement
- Gianni Morbidelli Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Retirement
- Zsolt Szabo Zengo Motorsport Cupra Retirement
- Frederic Vervisch Comtoyou Racing Audi Retirement
- Aurelien Comte DG Sport Competition Peugeot Not started
- Denis Dupont Comtoyou Racing Audi Withdrawn

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About this article

Series WTCR
Drivers Yvan Muller , Gabriele Tarquini
Author Jack Cozens
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