WTCR Suzuka: Race one victory hands Guerrieri points lead

Honda driver Esteban Guerrieri moved back into the World Touring Car Cup points lead with victory in the opening race at Suzuka

WTCR Suzuka: Race one victory hands Guerrieri points lead

Guerrieri, who had qualified second, started from pole courtesy of a grid penalty for fellow Honda driver Tiago Monteiro, but dropped a position on the opening lap as he squabbled with the Comtoyou Racing Audi of Frederic Vervisch and Niels Langeveld.

While Guerrieri rebuffed Vervisch into Turn 1, Langeveld got a better drive off the first corner and passed both before the run to the Esses.

But Langeveld's spell in the lead was short-lived, as Guerrieri executed a crucial pass on the following lap and retained the lead for the remainder of the race.

Langeveld followed Guerrieri home to claim his first WTCR podium, while Monteiro was gifted the final podium position when Vervisch stopped with a puncture - an incident that caused a safety-car period.

The leading Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 03 of Thed Bjork was fourth ahead of race three polesitter Johan Kristoffersson, who brought his Sebastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI home ahead of the WRT Audi of Jean-Karl Vernay.

Gabriele Tarquini (BRC Racing Hyundai i30 N) and the Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeos of Kevin Ceccon and Ma Qing Hua completed the top 10.

Yvan Muller started the race in 25th but staged a strong fightback in the race to finish 11th ahead of team-mate and nephew Yann Ehrlacher, while erstwhile points leader Norbert Michelisz was 13th.

Michelisz, who now trails Guerrieri by 13 points, was boosted in the order by a controversial late incident between his BRC Hyundai team-mate Nicky Catsburg and Andy Priaulx.

Catsburg was handed a position by Michelisz in order to attack Priaulx, but the two came to blows at the first corner as Priaulx attempted to defend his position.

Priaulx moved slightly to the right before he braked in order to cover off the inside line, but Catsburg hit the brakes later than the Lynk & Co driver, who was fired off into the gravel trap.

Priaulx later gesticulated in the direction of Michelisz's car as the field came towards the first corner behind the safety car.

Catsburg was classified a provisional 14th, though the incident between himself and Priaulx is being investigated, while Aurelien Panis completed the points in his Comtoyou Cupra.

Result - 26 laps

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Esteban Guerrieri Munnich Motorsport Honda 26m36.701s
2 Niels Langeveld Comtoyou Audi Audi 0.460s
3 Tiago Monteiro KCMG Honda 1.602s
4 Thed Bjork Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 1.991s
5 Johan Kristoffersson SLR Volkswagen Volkswagen 2.400s
6 Jean-Karl Vernay WRT Audi 3.699s
7 Gabriele Tarquini BRC Squadra Corse Hyundai 5.208s
8 Kevin Ceccon Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo 5.842s
9 Ma Qinghua Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo 8.091s
10 Rob Huff SLR VW Motorsport Volkswagen 8.566s
11 Yvan Muller Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 9.990s
12 Yann Ehrlacher Cyan Performance Lynk & Co 10.865s
13 Norbert Michelisz BRC Squadra Corse Hyundai 11.700s
14 Aurelien Panis Comtoyou Cupra Cupra 13.207s
15 Augusto Farfus BRC Racing Team Hyundai 14.250s
16 Tom Coronel Comtoyou Cupra Cupra 14.589s
17 Mikel Azcona PWR Racing Cupra 15.310s
18 Nestor Girolami Munnich Motorsport Honda 16.476s
19 Ryuichiro Tomita Audi Hitotsuyama Audi 17.109s
20 Daniel Haglof PWR Racing Cupra 17.949s
21 Attila Tassi KCMG Honda 18.883s
22 Jim Ka To KC Motorgroup Honda 20.266s
23 Nicky Catsburg BRC Racing Team Hyundai 42.857s
24 Mehdi Bennani SLR VW Motorsport Volkswagen 3 Laps
- Andy Priaulx Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Retirement
- Ritomo Miyata Audi Hitotsuyama Audi Retirement
- Benjamin Leuchter SLR Volkswagen Volkswagen Retirement
- Frederic Vervisch Comtoyou Audi Audi Retirement
- Gordon Shedden WRT Audi Retirement


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