Norbert Michelisz leads BRC 1-2 in chaotic second race at Ningbo

Norbert Michelisz leads BRC 1-2 in chaotic second race at Ningbo

Norbert Michelisz
Photo: Clement Luck / DPPI

Norbert Michelisz moved to the top of the FIA World Touring Car Cup drivers standings with victory ahead of BRC team-mate Gabriele Tarquini in a chaotic second race at Ningbo in China.

The reverse-grid race saw Lynk & Co’s Andy Priaulx start from pole position and the Brit duly led comfortably at the start, as behind him there was chaos on the opening lap.

SLR’s Benjamin Leuchter and Tiago Monteiro made contact and ended up in the gravel, whilst BRC’s Augusto Farfus lost control of his car and caused erstwhile points leader Esteban Guerrieri to go off in the process, with the Münnich Motorsport driver spinning into the barriers.

Home hero Ma Qing Hua was also a casualty, coming to a standstill with a broken front-left wheel on his Alfa Romeo.

With numerous cars needing to be recovered the safety car was called and the field neutralised for the following four laps.

Racing resumed on lap six and initially Priaulx made a good restart. However, the Guernseyman could not shake off the chasing Hyundais of Michelisz and Tarquini, and the duo began to apply heavy pressure on lap 11 as the leading Lynk & Co apparently began to suffer with a slow puncture.

The battle for first became a five-way tussle on lap 12, and when Priaulx braked earlier as a result of his puncture, Michelisz hit the back of him and spun Priaulx across the circuit, allowing Tarquini into the lead with Michelisz following in his battered i30.

The duo then swapped positions on lap 13, giving Michelisz the win and moving him to the head of the standings by 14 points after Guerrieri’s retirement.

Tarquin took second, whilst the podium was completed by Yvan Muller, after the third BRC car of Nicky Catsburg dropped back when he made contact with Daniel Haglöf on lap 14 whilst trying in vain to defend his podium.

That contact also gifted Thed Björk fourth position, whilst Haglöf was able to continue and come home as the best-placed CUPRA in fifth.

KCMG’s Attila Tassi was the best Honda driver in sixth, the Hungarian coming through from 16th on the grid in a race of high attrition.

SLR’s Rob Huff was seventh, ahead of the limping Catsburg in eighth, Comtoyou Racing’s Tom Coronel in ninth and Team Mulsanne’s Kevin Ceccon in tenth.

Leopard Racing’s Jean-Karl Vernay had been running in eighth until the last lap when the Audi driver lost out in a five-way tussle for the lower places of the top ten.

Mikel Azcona had been running in sixth but on lap eight the PWR Racing driver slowed with a technical issue on his CUPRA and retired from the race. At the same time, Münnich Motorsport’s Néstor Girolami also retired with a broken front-right wheel after contact on the circuit.

Race three gets underway at 15:50 local time (08:50 BST, 09:50 CEST).

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 15 32:31.594 1:52.864 2
2 1 Gabriele TARQUINI BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai i30 N TCR 15 0.766 1:52.844 5
3 100 Yvan MULLER Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 15 1.537 1:53.455 10
4 11 Thed BJÖRK Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 15 1.906 1:53.539 3
5 37 Daniel HAGLÖF PWR Racing CUPRA TCR 15 2.360 1:52.687 12
6 9 Attila TASSI KCMG Honda Civic Type R TCR 15 6.708 1:53.717 16
7 12 Rob HUFF SLR VW Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 15 7.670 1:54.446 20
8 88 Nicky CATSBURG BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR 15 11.402 1:53.053 7
9 50 Tom CORONEL Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing CUPRA TCR 15 11.623 1:54.128 21
10 31 Kevin CECCON Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR 15 11.961 1:53.566 26
11 69 Jean-Karl VERNAY Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 15 12.565 1:53.750 13
12 25 Mehdi BENNANI SLR VW Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 15 12.766 1:54.706 24
13 14 Johan KRISTOFFERSSON SLR Volkswagen Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 15 13.120 1:54.857 22
14 52 Gordon SHEDDEN Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 15 13.676 1:54.681 25
15 68 Yann EHRLACHER Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 15 14.307 1:54.461 9
R 111 Andy PRIAULX Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 13 DNF 1:52.831 1
R 21 Aurélien PANIS Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing CUPRA TCR 10 DNF 1:54.303 8
R 96 Mikel AZCONA PWR Racing CUPRA TCR 7 DNF 1:53.577 15
R 29 Néstor GIROLAMI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR 7 DNF 1:54.574 17
R 18 Tiago MONTEIRO KCMG Honda Civic Type R TCR 4 DNF 1:55.800 18
R 86 Esteban GUERRIERI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR 4 DNF N/A 6
R 22 Frédéric VERVISCH Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 3 DNF N/A 14
R 8 Augusto FARFUS BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR 0 DNF N/A 4
R 55 Ma QING HUA Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR 0 DNF N/A 11
R 33 Benjamin LEUCHTER SLR Volkswagen Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 0 DNF N/A 19
NS 10 Niels LANGEVELD Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR DNS N/A 23
WTCR points deficit after Round 20
Graphic: TouringCars.Net