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Gabriele Tarquini wins for Honda in Japan

Gabriele Tarquini scored his and the works’ Honda team’s first World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) victory of the season in the second race at Suzuka, finishing ahead of Campos Racing’s Dušan Borković and Zengő Motorsport’s Norbert Michelisz.

Tarquini led the race from start to finish from pole position and was never challenged for the lead, taking victory by 1.25 seconds. It marks the first win of the season for the factor JAS Motorsport-run  Honda squad, and the second for the manufacturer, following Merhdi Bennani’s win at the previous event in China.

By finishing in second, Borković scored his first-ever podium in the WTCC and the first for a Serbian driver in the series. The Campos driver didn’t have the pace to challenge Tarquini, and had to defend early on in the race from Michelisz.

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Third went to the Independent Honda of Michelisz, who scored his third podium of the season. The Hungarian had tried to pass Borković for second on the opening lap at the chicane, but contact between the pair saw the Serbian driver skip the chicane and Michelisz was never close enough for the rest of the race to challenge.

The top Citroën driver was Yvan Muller in fifth, but like race one the Frenchman’s race was not without incident. On lap five Muller, whilst also defending from Sébastien Loeb behind, locked up at the hairpin and hit the back of Hugo Valente’s Chevrolet. The Campos driver was forced out with damage to his left-rear wheel, whilst Muller ended the race under investigation for the incident.

In the drama, new champion José María López was able to get past Loeb for sixth at the subsequent Spoon curve, leaving Loeb to finish the race in seventh. It is thus only the second time this season that no Citroën driver has been on the podium, after race two in Hungary.

Münnich Motorsport’s Gianni Morbidelli started the race in fourth but had a terrible start, dropping to ninth on the opening lap. He eventually finished in eighth, benefitting only from Valente’s retirement in the race.

Completing the top ten were the second works’ Honda of Tiago Monteiro and ROAL Motorsport’s Tom Chilton, who also had a poor start from seventh on the grid.

There was no change in the order of the LADA drivers who all missed out on the points, with Rob Huff in 11th finishing directly ahead of James Thompson and Mikhail Kozlovskiy.

For the first time this season Franz Engstler failed to finish the race, having pulled off the circuit on lap five. That left Campos Racing’s John Filippi to win in TC2 for the first time, ahead of Engstler’s team-mate Filipe Clemente de Souza.

Proteam Racing’s Mehdi Bennani failed to start the race due to mechanical problems, ending a point-less weekend for the Moroccan.

Top ten result

1 2 TC1 Gabriele TARQUINI Castrol Honda WTC Team Honda Civic WTCC 11 23:55.783 2:09.063 1
2 98 TC1 Dušan BORKOVIĆ NIS Petrol by Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 11 1.725 2:09.928 2
3 5 TC1 Norbert MICHELISZ Zengő Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC 11 4.360 2:09.902 5
4 4 TC1 Tom CORONEL ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 11 5.497 2:10.036 3
5 1 TC1 Yvan MULLER Citroën Total WTCC Citroën C-Elysée WTCC 11 6.116 2:09.495 9
6 37 TC1 José María LÓPEZ Citroën Total WTCC Citroën C-Elysée WTCC 11 6.346 2:09.602 10
7 9 TC1 Sébastien LOEB Citroën Total WTCC Citroën C-Elysée WTCC 11 6.665 2:10.005 8
8 10 TC1 Gianni MORBIDELLI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 11 14.062 2:10.181 4
9 18 TC1 Tiago MONTEIRO Castrol Honda WTC Team Honda Civic WTCC 11 14.791 2:10.752 11
10 3 TC1 Tom CHILTON ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 11 15.104 2:10.826 7

Complete race results

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