Yvan Muller declared his opening FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) race in Japan to be a ‘good result’ after the Hyundai driver finished in third to draw level with Gabriele Tarquini at the top of the drivers’ standings.
Despite qualifying in sixth, Muller started the race from third on the grid after several driver ahead of him received penalties for slowing too much in Friday’s qualifying session.
In a race which subsequently proved to be relatively devoid of overtaking moves, Muller was able to take a straightforward podium finish in third, despite occasionally looking likely to challenge the Peugeot of Aurélien Comte ahead of him.
His tenth podium finish of the season means that Muller is now equal with Tarquini on 251 points, with Tarquini taking the finish in his Hyundai in just eighth place.
Muller also acknowledged that a good result will be even harder on Sunday, when he faces the prospect of starting from 12th position for both races whilst Tarquini gets to start from second for the main race.
“[It was] a good result because Gabriele is behind, and I’ve taken some points on him,” said Muller. “The problem will be tomorrow.
“Qualifying didn’t go as well as I wanted, although the car was very good. But the pace was not there for me unfortunately.
“Anything can happen. There are still two races tomorrow, for sure Gabriele will try to take some points.
“He can leave this meeting 20 points ahead, probably, but Macau is Macau…”