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Gabriele Tarquini win denies Muller WTCC Crown

Gabriele Tarquini secured his and Honda’s second victory of the season at Sonoma Raceway, with Yvan Muller being forced to wait for his fourth WTCC crown.

Click here for the full Round 18 Results.

With Norbert Michelisz third and Tiago Monteiro finishing on the bootlid of Muller’s RML Chevrolet, Honda have secured the 2013 Manufacturers crown as the best placed LADA of James Thompson finished 16th.

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Mehdi Bennani secured his second podium finish of the season after starting the race on pole and defended from Michelisz before pulling away, as the Hungarians tyres went off and he fell into the clutches of Muller.

Tarquini took the lead at the second corner of the opening lap and never looked back as he pulled away to secure a controlled victory, a result which moves him up to second in the Championship as previous second-placed driver, Michel Nykjær failed to score for the second race in succession.

Bennani finished as the leading Independent while James Nash, who was up in the top five early on in the race dropped down the order to finish third in class and eighth overall – a result which closes up the Yokohama Independents’ heading to Suzuka in two weeks time.

Tom Coronel finished in sixth for ROAL Motorsport, ahead of Fredy Barth in the Wiechers-Sport BMW. Nash finished in eighth after losing out to the BMW duo late in the race, whilst Marc Basseng and Stwfano D’Aste again completed the top ten in ninth and tenth respectively.

Rob Huff had been running in third when a puncture forced him to slow after only two laps. The Brit pitted for a replacement tyre but finished down in 20th.

There was also a spin for Charles Kaki Ng at the Carousel – the Hong Kong driver ultimately retired from the race along with team-mate Franz Engstler.

Tom Boardman initially finished the race in 12th but was later given a 30-second penalty for over-speeding at the rolling start. Fernando Monje was also given the same penalty, dropping them to the bottom of the results.

Muller’s fourth place finish means that he can secure the title in Japan while Tarquini is the only driver who can deny the Frenchman his fourth WTCC crown – Muller leads by 144 points from Tarquini while Nykjaer has slipped 163 behind, with a maximum of 165 available.

Suzuka in Japan plays host to rounds 19 and 20 in 2 weeks time, over the 21/22 September and Tarquini needs to outscore Muller by 35 points to take the fight to China.

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