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.
|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|