Gabriele Tarquini wins race three after Kevin Ceccon hit with penalty

Gabriele Tarquini wins race three after Kevin Ceccon hit with penalty

Gabriele Tarquini
Photo: Clement Marin / DPPI

BRC Racing’s Gabriele Tarquini claimed victory in the final FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) race at Suzuka, after on-the-road winner Kevin Ceccon was handed a five-second time penalty for being out of position at the start.

Tarquini took the lead at the start of the race after getting a better launch than his Italian compatriot, with Ceccon dropping down to fourth as the Honda of Yann Ehrlacher and the Peugeot of Aurélien Comte also got through in the first sequence of turns.

Ceccon was able to claim third at the chicane on the opening lap, before immediately setting on to Ehrlacher for second, which he took heading into the first corner on the second lap.

But it took another five laps for Ceccon to catch and pass the leading Hyundai, and by that point Tarquini had already been informed that the chasing Alfa Romeo driver had been handed a five-second time penalty for being out of position at the start of the race.

That made the battle for the lead a moot point, and Tarquini did not make it difficult for Ceccon, who moved into the lead on lap seven and sought to build as big an advantage as he could.

In the end, though, Ceccon was only able to extend a 2.6 second margin, giving Tarquini the win whilst the margin even over the Peugeot of Comte was not enough, handing the Frenchman second and Ceccon being classified in third.

Sébastien Loeb Racing’s Mehid Bennani took fourth on the final lap of the race, leaving the leading Audi of Comtoyou Racing’s Aurélien Panis to settle for fifth, following up his career-best result which was achieved in the earlier second race of the weekend.

Race two victor Rob Huff brought his SLR Volkswagen home in sixth, ahead of Comtoyou Racing’s Frédéric Vervisch in seventh. The Belgian had been outside the points in 12th at the mid-point of the race, before a sequence of events caused a compacting of the mid-pack and allowed him to benefit.

Those events began when Münnich Motorsport’s Esteban Guerrieri passed YMR’s Yvan Muller for seventh on the third lap, but contact between the pair also allowed Campos Racing’s Pepe Oriola to get in on the act. Guerrieri was later handed a post-race ten-second penalty for the contact.

The subsequent laps saw the trio battling hard, with Guerrieri leading Muller and Oriola, whilst the latter began to cut the final chicane as he tried to hold off Muller from regaining the position.

Oriola was able to cut the chicane at least three times between laps three and eight before the stewards had enough and handed him a drive-through penalty, but the battles between him and Guerrieri allowed the pack to bunch up.

That resulted in Muller dropping behind Huff and Vervisch, before he was hit by fellow Hyundai driver Norbert Michelisz at the chicane on lap nine, knocking him out of the points.

In the mêlée, it was Thed Björk who also benefitted, moving the YMR driver up to eighth, ahead of Michelisz and Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil’s Jean-Karl Vernay, who took his only point of the day in tenth.

Both Guerrieri and Muller dropped out of the points, leaving Tarquini with a large 39-point advantage at the head of the drivers’ standings heading to the season finale in Macau next month.

Münnich Motorsport’s Yann Ehrlacher had been running in fourth when the Frenchman pulled his Honda off to the side of the circuit with an apparent technical issue on lap seven.

Revised* race result

POS NO DRIVER NAT ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME BEST GD
1 30 Gabriele TARQUINI BRC Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR 11 24:41.704 2:13.464 2
2 7 Aurélien COMTE DG Sport Compétition Peugeot 308 TCR 11 1.577 2:13.914 3
3 31 Kevin CECCON Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR 11 2.024 2:13.474 1
4 25 Mehdi BENNANI Sébastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 11 3.140 2:14.150 5
5 21 Aurélien PANIS Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS 11 3.674 2:13.751 6
6 12 Rob HUFF Sébastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 11 13.728 2:14.320 9
7 22 Frédéric VERVISCH Audi Sport Team Comtoyou Audi RS3 LMS 11 18.296 2:14.389 14
8 11 Thed BJÖRK YMR Hyundai i30 N TCR 11 19.963 2:14.435 13
9 5 Norbert MICHELISZ BRC Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR 11 20.694 2:14.296 7
10 69 Jean-Karl VERNAY Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team Audi RS3 LMS 11 23.015 2:14.581 17
11 18 Tiago MONTEIRO Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR 11 23.259 2:14.255 16
12 27 John FILIPPI Team Oscaro by Campos Racing CUPRA TCR 11 23.660 2:14.554 22
13 42 Timo SCHEIDER ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR 11 24.238 2:14.519 18
14 9 Tom CORONEL Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR 11 24.639 2:15.347 23
15 70 Mat’o HOMOLA DG Sport Compétition Peugeot 308 TCR 11 27.312 2:15.467 15
16 52 Gordon SHEDDEN Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team Audi RS3 LMS 11 27.956 2:14.391 20
17 8 Norbert NAGY Zengő Motorsport CUPRA TCR 11 28.654 2:15.163 24
18 74 Pepe ORIOLA Team Oscaro by Campos Racing CUPRA TCR 11 37.050 2:14.121 10
19 86 Esteban GUERRIERI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR 11 39.948* 2:13.776 11
20 23 Nathanaël BERTHON Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS 10 + 1 LAP 2:14.267 19
21 48 Yvan MULLER YMR Hyundai i30 N TCR 10 + 1 LAP 2:13.989 12
R 68 Yann EHRLACHER ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR 6 DNF 2:13.806 4
R 20 Denis DUPONT Audi Sport Team Comtoyou Audi RS3 LMS 5 DNF 2:15.018 8
R 16 Luigi FERRARA Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR 5 DNF 2:13.621 21
NS 66 Zsolt Dávid SZABÓ Zengő Motorsport CUPRA TCR DNS N/A 25

Esteban Guerrieri was given a post-race 10-second penalty for contact with Yvan Muller.

WTCR points deficit chart
Graphic: TouringCars.Net