WTCR Vila Real: Muller wins crash-delayed race

Yvan Muller reclaimed the World Touring Car Cup points lead with victory in Saturday's opening race, which featured a stoppage of more than two hours after a huge first-lap crash

WTCR Vila Real: Muller wins crash-delayed race

Muller made a dreadful start on the initial getaway, but was the first car in the queue when the race restarted behind a safety car and controlled proceedings thereafter.

The race had been halted for car recovery and track repairs after a crash on the opening lap, which was triggered by polesitter Rob Huff and team-mate Mehdi Bennani making contact through the fast Turn 3 right-hander.

Norbert Michelisz had returned to the grid having survived a hit in that crash, but his BRC Racing Hyundai i30 N was not allowed to take the restart and was instead returned to the pits, giving Muller clear track when racing resumed at the end of lap four.

The four-time world champion was matched in the opening laps by Esteban Guerrieri - whose Munnich Motorsport outfit had worked throughout the stoppage to repair his Honda Civic in time for the restart - with Gabriele Tarquini in tow in third in the sole surviving BRC Hyundai.

But Muller gradually eked out an advantage and was never troubled by Guerrieri, with both opting to serve their joker laps at the end of lap eight.

Muller clinched his second win of the season by a little more than two seconds, reclaiming the points lead in the process as a result of nephew Yann Ehrlacher being eliminated in the first lap crash.

Tarquini had pressed Guerrieri in the closing stages, but suffered a left-front puncture on the final lap and dropped to fourth, ceding the final podium position to Pepe Oriola approaching the final corner.

Oriola had earlier completed a vital overtake on Jean-Karl Vernay - who had taken the initial start from the pitlane after crashing at the end of qualifying - by squeezing his Campos Racing Cupra past Vernay on the run off the second corner after Vernay had served his joker.

Vernay still finished a comfortable fifth behind Tarquini, while Aurelien Comte claimed sixth in his Peugeot 308TCR from Benjamin Lessennes in the closing stages.

The Comtoyou Raing Audi RS3 LMSs finished eighth and 10th, sandwiching the similar WRT car of Gordon Shedden.

Fabrizio Giovanardi finished 11th - recording the Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo outfit's best finish so far in 2018 - but he was placed under investigation during the race for crossing the blue joker lap line in his Giulietta.

Race one result

Pos Driver Team Car Laps Gap
1 Yvan Muller YMR Hyundai 13 2h36m58.962s
2 Esteban Guerrieri Munnich Motorsport Honda 13 2.060s
3 Pepe Oriola Campos Racing Cupra 13 10.596s
4 Gabriele Tarquini BRC Racing Team Hyundai 13 12.925s
5 Jean-Karl Vernay WRT Audi 13 13.926s
6 Aurelien Comte DG Sport Competition Peugeot 13 14.186s
7 Benjamin Lessennes Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda 13 16.696s
8 Nathanael Berthon Comtoyou Racing Audi 13 19.937s
9 Gordon Shedden WRT Audi 13 20.169s
10 Frederic Vervisch Comtoyou Racing Audi 13 20.678s
11 Fabrizio Giovanardi Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo 13 21.728s
12 Mat'o Homola DG Sport Competition Peugeot 13 22.668s
13 Edgar Florindo Veloso Motorsport Cupra 13 50.040s
14 Norbert Nagy Zengo Motorsport Cupra 13 50.451s
15 Zsolt Szabo Zengo Motorsport Cupra 13 1m05.510s
16 Aurelien Panis Comtoyou Racing Audi 10 3 Laps
- Denis Dupont Comtoyou Racing Audi 8 Retirement
- Jose Rodrigues Target Competition Honda 7 Retirement
- Tom Coronel Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda 5 Retirement
- Norbert Michelisz BRC Racing Team Hyundai 1 Retirement
- Gianni Morbidelli Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo 0 Not started
- Thed Bjork YMR Hyundai 0 Retirement
- Yann Ehrlacher Munnich Motorsport Honda 0 Retirement
- Rob Huff Sebastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen 0 Retirement
- James Thompson Munnich Motorsport Honda 0 Retirement
- Mehdi Bennani Sebastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen 0 Retirement
- John Filippi Campos Racing Cupra 0 Retirement


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Huge crash halts first Vila Real WTCR race on first lap

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Series WTCR
Drivers Yvan Muller
Author Jack Cozens
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