Norbert Michelisz closes gap in title race with lights-to-flag win

Norbert Michelisz closes gap in title race with lights-to-flag win

Norbert Michelisz
Photo: Xavi Bonilla / DPPI

Norbert Michelisz slashed the gap to points leader Esteban Guerrieri with victory in the opening FIA World Touring Car Cup race on the streets of Vila Real, as his rival failed to pick up any points.

BRC Racing’s Michelisz followed up his superb qualifying lap with an equally flawless race performance, getting a strong start and taking his joker lap whilst in clean air to ensure that he was never threatened for the win.

Lynk & Co’s Yann Ehrlacher was second, the Frenchman getting the jump on the second Hyundai of Augusto Farfus when he used his joker lap on lap four to slingshot the Brazilian.

Farfus, who had been a cork in the bottle which allowed Michelisz to escape early on, completed the podium, making his second visit to the rostrum in as many race meetings.

Rob Huff was the leading Volkswagen in fourth, the SLR driver unable to find a way to challenge for a podium, ahead of Nicky Catsburg’s BRC Hyundai in fifth.

Comtoyou Racing’s Aurélien Panis was sixth, the CUPRA driver only gaining a place when Ma Qing Hua made a poor start in his Alfa Romeo as the lights went out – the Chinese driver ultimately dropping to 19th by the end of the opening tour.

SLR’s Johan Kristoffersson was seventh, ahead of Lynk & Co duo Thed Björk and Yvan Muller in eighth and ninth, whilst the Audi of Jean-Karl Vernay completed the top ten in a relatively uneventful race.

The biggest drama came when BRC’s Gabriele Tarquini and KCMG’s Tiago Monteiro made contact on lap five, the duo dropping from the edge of the top ten to the back of the field as they had to reverse out of the barriers after contact at the corner apex.

Michelisz has slashed Guerrieri’s points lead with his pole and win, the Hungarian being just 15 points behind after the Münnich Motorsport driver was 24th in the race. Guerrieri had been running on the edge of the points but dropped back as a problem struck his Honda late in the race.

Qualifying for races two and three gets underway at 10:00 WEST / BST (11:00 CEST) on Sunday.

Race result

POS NO DRIVER NAT ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME BEST GD
1 5 Norbert MICHELISZ BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai i30 N TCR 11 11 LAPS 2:03.019 1
2 68 Yann EHRLACHER Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 11 2.291 2:02.879 3
3 8 Augusto FARFUS BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR 11 3.009 2:03.245 2
4 12 Rob HUFF SLR VW Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 11 3.538 2:02.977 4
5 88 Nicky CATSBURG BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR 11 7.630 2:03.169 6
6 21 Aurélien PANIS Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing CUPRA TCR 11 8.437 2:03.243 7
7 14 Johan KRISTOFFERSSON SLR Volkswagen Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 11 10.344 2:03.006 8
8 11 Thed BJÖRK Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 11 11.349 2:03.041 9
9 100 Yvan MULLER Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 11 16.051 2:03.465 12
10 69 Jean-Karl VERNAY Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 11 17.248 2:03.969 11
11 29 Néstor GIROLAMI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR 11 19.081 2:03.888 13
12 111 Andy PRIAULX Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 11 22.000 2:03.839 15
13 96 Mikel AZCONA PWR Racing CUPRA TCR 11 22.775 2:04.082 17
14 55 Ma QING HUA Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR 11 23.735 2:03.965 5
15 10 Niels LANGEVELD Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 11 26.254 2:04.434 18
16 33 Benjamin LEUCHTER SLR Volkswagen Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 11 28.016 2:04.475 19
17 52 Gordon SHEDDEN Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 11 29.525 2:04.578 20
18 50 Tom CORONEL Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing CUPRA TCR 11 29.757 2:04.336 21
19 31 Kevin CECCON Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR 11 30.743 2:04.255 25
20 22 Frédéric VERVISCH Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 11 32.409 2:04.721 24
21 9 Attila TASSI KCMG Honda Civic Type R TCR 11 33.515 2:04.092 22
22 25 Mehdi BENNANI SLR VW Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 11 34.014 2:04.098 23
23 18 Tiago MONTEIRO KCMG Honda Civic Type R TCR 11 40.051 2:04.149 14
24 86 Esteban GUERRIERI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR 11 53.762 2:04.044 16
25 37 Daniel HAGLÖF PWR Racing CUPRA TCR 11 53.926 2:04.051 26
R 1 Gabriele TARQUINI BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai i30 N TCR 6 DNF 2:04.276 10
WTCR Points standings after Round 16
Graphic: TouringCars.Net