Gabriele Tarquini was delighted to leave Suzuka with a ‘bigger than expected’ lead of 39 points in the FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) standings, after inheriting victory in the final race in Japan.
Tarquini had qualified in second for the main race on Sunday, and the veteran Italian led the first six laps of the race from Team Mulsanne’s Kevin Ceccon.
But after hearing that the Alfa Romeo driver had incurred a five-second time penalty, the Hyundai driver opted to let Ceccon through and not put up a fight.
In the end Ceccon was unable to extend enough of an advantage, gifting Tarquini the win and allowing him to open up a huge 39-point advantage with just three races left to run in Macau.
That Tarquini has been able to extend his lead so much, after being level on points with Yvan Muller after Saturday’s first race, has left him leaving Suzuka very pleased with his weekend.
“You can see the smile on my face,” said Tarquini. “The gap is bigger than I expected because after the grid position penalty yesterday it was not easy and Yvan recovered ten points on me.
“But today was a different day. I got the chance to score some points, made a fantastic start in race two and even better in race three, and this was the key to my success.
“I am very disappointed for Kevin because he was the fastest guy here, uncatchable for everybody. But unfortunately, he got his five-second penalty.
“To be honest when they informed me I let him past. I did not have to challenge for the race, I was thinking about the points for my fight for the championship.
“But after that I tried to be as close as possible, but he was very, very fast. But even with this fast car he was not able to gain five seconds. For me it was a good chance to score this victory.”