Esteban Guerrieri wins race one at Suzuka to reclaim points lead

Esteban Guerrieri wins race one at Suzuka to reclaim points lead

WTCR suzuka race start
Photo: Florent Gooden / DPPI

Münnich Motorsport’s Esteban Guerrieri took victory in the first FIA World Touring Car Cup race at Suzuka, elevating the Honda driver back to the top of the standings after rival Norbert Michelisz finished in just 13th.

Before the race started, a deluge of penalties were handed out following the qualifying session on Friday. Amongst them, original pole-sitter Tiago Monteiro was dropped to fourth and Gabriele Tarquini, who was originally fifth, to eighth.

The penalties were mostly for drivers going “unnecessarily slowly which created a potential danger” in order to find clear track space. Thus Honda’s Guerrieri inherited pole, whilst Langeveld moved on to the front row, from fourth.

When the race started Guerrieri had to defend from both Langeveld and his Comtoyou Racing team-mate Frédéric Vervisch at the first turn, resulting in Langeveld taking the lead at Turn 2.

But the Dutchman only lead for one lap as he went wide at the final corner on lap two, handing the lead back to Guerrieri.

Thereafter the Argentine drove a controlled race and was never really challenged further, allowing him to pick up his third win of the season to move back to the top of the drivers’ championship standings.

Langeveld recorded a first WTCR podium in second, and would potentially have been joined by team-mate Vervisch on the podium but the Belgian picked up a puncture on lap seven whilst running in third.

Thus, Monteiro finished in third, his second podium visit of the year, unable to fight back to the front after his post-qualifying penalty.

Lynk & Co’s Thed Björk was fourth, securing vital championship points, ahead of SLR’s Johan Kristoffersson in fifth.

Jean-Karl Vernay made up five positions over the course of the race to take sixth, ahead of the leading Hyundai of Gabriele Tarquini in seventh.

Completing the top ten were Alfa Romeo duo Kevin Ceccon and Ma Qing Hua in eighth and ninth, ahead of the Volkswagen of Rob Huff in tenth.

Lynk & Co duo Yvan Muller, from 25th on the grid, and Yann Ehrlacher were 11th and 12th. The Cyan Racing drivers also had team-mate Andy Priaulx running behind them until four laps from the end, when the Guernseyman was punted off at Turn 1 by the Hyundai of Nicky Catsburg.

With Priaulx’s race ending in the barriers, the safety car was required and no further racing would be possible before the laps counted down.

Catsburg had only just been released to try to pass Priaulx by BRC Racing, as he had been running behind team-mate Norbert Michelisz in 15th until then.

Michelisz was ultimately classified in 13th after getting past Catsburg on the lap he took out Priaulx, whilst Aurélien Panis took the final point in 15th.

Races two and three take place on Sunday at 10:00 and 11:30 local time respectively.

Race result

POS NO DRIVER NAT ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME BEST GD
1 86 Esteban GUERRIERI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR 26 26:36.701 54.007 1
2 10 Niels LANGEVELD Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 26 0.460 54.248 2
3 18 Tiago MONTEIRO KCMG Honda Civic Type R TCR 26 1.602 54.664 4
4 11 Thed BJÖRK Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 26 1.991 54.363 6
5 14 Johan KRISTOFFERSSON SLR Volkswagen Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 26 2.400 54.631 9
6 69 Jean-Karl VERNAY Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 26 3.699 54.628 11
7 1 Gabriele TARQUINI BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai i30 N TCR 26 5.208 54.824 8
8 31 Kevin CECCON Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR 26 5.842 54.855 12
9 55 Ma QING HUA Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR 26 8.091 54.611 15
10 12 Rob HUFF SLR VW Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 26 8.566 54.704 16
11 100 Yvan MULLER Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 26 9.990 54.955 25
12 68 Yann EHRLACHER Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 26 10.865 54.727 13
13 5 Norbert MICHELISZ BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai i30 N TCR 26 11.700 54.932 17
14 88 Nicky CATSBURG BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR 26 12.857 54.999 22
15 21 Aurélien PANIS Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing CUPRA TCR 26 13.207 55.148 20
16 8 Augusto FARFUS BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR 26 14.250 54.878 23
17 50 Tom CORONEL Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing CUPRA TCR 26 14.589 55.046 28
18 96 Mikel AZCONA PWR Racing CUPRA TCR 26 15.310 54.809 24
19 29 Néstor GIROLAMI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR 26 16.476 54.845 27
20 7 Ryuichiro TOMITA Audi Team Hitotsuyama Audi RS3 LMS TCR 26 17.109 55.082 14
21 37 Daniel HAGLÖF PWR Racing CUPRA TCR 26 17.949 54.656 26
22 9 Attila TASSI KCMG Honda Civic Type R TCR 26 18.883 54.860 19
23 19 Jim KA TO KC Motorgroup Honda Civic Type R TCR 26 20.266 55.156 29
24 25 Mehdi BENNANI SLR VW Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 23 + 3 LAPS 55.138 21
R 111 Andy PRIAULX Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 21 DNF 54.957 7
R 77 Ritomo MIYATA Audi Team Hitotsuyama Audi RS3 LMS TCR 14 DNF 54.822 5
R 33 Benjamin LEUCHTER SLR Volkswagen Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 7 DNF 54.804 10
R 22 Frédéric VERVISCH Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 6 DNF 54.585 3
R 52 Gordon SHEDDEN Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 6 DNF 55.533 18
WTCR points deficit after Round 22
Graphic: TouringCars.Net