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
|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.