Just as in race two a mechanical failure decided the result of the final FIA World Touring Car Cup race in Marrakech, as Lynk & Co’s Thed Björk took victory after team-mate Yvan Muller retired whilst leading the race.
At the start both Muller and Björk got the jump on pole-sitter Frédéric Vervisch to assume a Cyan Racing 1-2 at the front of the field, whilst Vervisch had to settle into third.
Further back, PWR Racing’s Mikel Azcona passed KCMG’s Tiago Monteiro for fourth, leaving the Honda driver vulnerable to attack behind after a poor start.
Münnnich Motorsport’s Esteban Guerrieri sought to pass Monteiro at Turn 7, but at the same time Yann Ehrlacher positioned his Lynk & Co 03 on the outside line, with the cars going three abreast into the turn.
Monteiro had nowhere to turn and tagged the rear of Ehrlacher’s car, putting the Frenchman into the barriers and also eliminating Monteiro as he collected the stricken car.
Whilst Guerrieri was able to continue, a four-lap safety car period was required to clear up the mess on track.
Racing resumed on lap six and there was effectively no change in the order until lap 14, when Muller suffered from a mechanical failure on his car, unable to keep his Lynk & co in a straight line.
That gifted the lead to Björk, who was not challenged by Vervisch to claim the first-ever victory for the new Chinese brand.
“When Yvan had his problem, I was trying just to keep the car on the track, not going on the kerbs and so on, just trying to be so nice as I could,” said Björk. “It is a little bit unreal to be winning here the first time we are with the car. It’s fantastic.
“It feels a really good start – I am so happy. I’m very sweaty because it was so tense in the car!”
Completing the podium was CUPRA driver Azcona, who scored a top three result in his first-ever weekend in WTCR.
The leading Hyundai was Gabriele Tarquini in fourth, ahead of Münnich Motorsport’s Néstor Girolami in fifth.
WRT’s Gordon Shedden was seventh, having come through from 12th on the grid predominantly on the opening lap.
Shedden’s team-mate Jean-Karl Vernay spectacularly crashed out with just three laps to go when he suffered from a brake failure whilst running in fifth, resulting in the race concluding behind the safety car.
Norbert Michelisz made it two BRC Hyundais inside the top ten in eighth, whilst the top ten was completed by the Alfa Romeo of Ma Qing Hua in ninth and CUPRA of Daniel Haglöf in tenth.
After his race two brake failure, BRC Racing’s Nicky Catsburg failed to take the start, whilst his team-mate Augusto Farfus stopped after 13 laps with a gearbox failure.
After the first weekend of the season, Björk leads the drivers’ standings with 61 points ahead of Guerrieri on 56 points and Tarquini on 49 points.
The next WTCR event takes place at the Hungaroring on the 26 – 28 April.
|1||11||Thed BJÖRK||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||23||37:58.474||1:27.621||3|
|2||22||Frédéric VERVISCH||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||23||0.680||1:27.297||1|
|3||96||Mikel AZCONA||PWR Racing||CUPRA TCR||23||3.039||1:27.601||5|
|4||86||Esteban GUERRIERI||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type R TCR||23||6.182||1:27.466||7|
|5||1||Gabriele TARQUINI||BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse||Hyundai i30 N TCR||23||10.174||1:27.645||9|
|6||29||Néstor GIROLAMI||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type R TCR||23||12.127||1:27.600||11|
|7||52||Gordon SHEDDEN||Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||23||14.725||1:27.442||12|
|8||5||Norbert MICHELISZ||BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse||Hyundai i30 N TCR||23||15.455||1:27.077||15|
|9||55||Ma QING HUA||Team Mulsanne||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||23||16.128||1:27.009||13|
|10||37||Daniel HAGLÖF||PWR Racing||CUPRA TCR||23||17.233||1:27.173||18|
|11||9||Attila TASSI||KCMG||Honda Civic Type R TCR||23||20.473||1:27.206||21|
|12||25||Mehdi BENNANI||SLR VW Motorsport||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||23||20.773||1:26.880||22|
|13||111||Andy PRIAULX||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||23||21.143||1:27.739||17|
|14||50||Tom CORONEL||Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing||CUPRA TCR||23||21.725||1:27.377||16|
|15||12||Rob HUFF||SLR VW Motorsport||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||23||22.785||1:27.441||19|
|16||31||Kevin CECCON||Team Mulsanne||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||23||23.307||1:27.545||20|
|17||14||Johan KRISTOFFERSSON||SLR Volkswagen||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||23||23.780||1:27.560||23|
|18||10||Niels LANGEVELD||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||23||24.829||1:27.622||25|
|19||21||Aurélien PANIS||Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing||CUPRA TCR||23||26.067||1:27.722||26|
|20||33||Benjamin LEUCHTER||SLR Volkswagen||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||23||27.895||1:27.719||24|
|R||69||Jean-Karl VERNAY||Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||19||DNF||1:27.638||8|
|R||100||Yvan MULLER||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||14||DNF||1:27.837||2|
|R||8||Augusto FARFUS||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team||Hyundai i30 N TCR||13||DNF||1:27.237||14|
|R||18||Tiago MONTEIRO||KCMG||Honda Civic Type R TCR||0||DNF||N/A||4|
|R||68||Yann EHRLACHER||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||0||DNF||N/A||6|
|NS||88||Nicky CATSBURG||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team||Hyundai i30 N TCR||–||DNS||N/A||10|