Norbert Michelisz edged closer to the FIA World Touring Car Cup title by taking a lights-to-flag victory in changeable conditions in Sepang, beating Aurélien Panis to the win as Thed Björk dropped out of the title race.
Rain fell before the start of the race which prompted a difficult decision on tyres, with some drivers electing for slicks all around, whilst others ran with wets on either the fronts or the rears.
Michelisz opted for the same configuration as his title rivals with wet tyres on the rear and slick tyres on the front.
The race began somewhat cautiously behind the safety car, with racing action commencing on lap two. Michelisz mastered the conditions well, with the BRC Racing driver not coming under threat at an stage for the win.
His fifth win of the season means the Hungarian has now opened up a 26-point advantage over title rival Esteban Guerrieri, with just two races left to run.
Comtoyou Racing’s Panis claimed his best-ever result in WTCR with second, the CUPRA driver keeping Michelisz honest to finish just over two seconds behind as the rest of the pack struggled to keep up.
Outgoing champion Gabriele Tarquini claimed third in the second BRC Hyundai, with the Italian having passed both Mikel Azcona and Néstor Girolami for the position on lap four, the duo later dropping down the order due to their tyre choices.
Münnich Motorsport’s Guerrieri limited the damage to his title challenge by claiming fourth, backed up by KCMG’s wildcard entry João Paulo de Oliveira in fifth, who had come through from 13th on the grid on slicks.
De Oliveira played a crucial role late in the race, preventing Cyan Racing’s Yvan Muller from getting close to Guerrieri, with Muller having to settle for sixth, from 16th on the grid.
Muller’s team-mate Thed Björk failed to make any impact in the race, the Swede running in 28th when he pitted for slicks to collect data from his team-mate. The result means Björk is now out of contention for the title.
PWR Racing’s Daniel Haglöf was seventh, having gained a few places in the opening three laps of racing, ahead of the leading Volkswagen of SLR’s Johan Kristoffersson in eighth.
BRC’s Nicky Catsburg and WRT’s Jean-Karl Vernay completed the top ten, the latter as the best Audi driver.
Race two is scheduled to get underway at 18:15 local time (10:15 GMT, 11:15 CET).
|1||5||Norbert MICHELISZ||BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse||Hyundai i30 N TCR||10||26:02.896||2:30.281||1|
|2||21||Aurélien PANIS||Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing||CUPRA TCR||10||2.446||2:30.524||2|
|3||1||Gabriele TARQUINI||BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse||Hyundai i30 N TCR||10||10.009||2:30.789||7|
|4||86||Esteban GUERRIERI||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type R TCR||10||10.878||2:30.864||9|
|5||38||João Paulo Lima DE OLIVEIRA||KC Motorgroup||Honda Civic Type R TCR||10||11.287||2:29.887||13|
|6||100||Yvan MULLER||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||10||12.125||2:30.091||16|
|7||37||Daniel HAGLÖF||PWR Racing||CUPRA TCR||10||17.213||2:30.534||15|
|8||14||Johan KRISTOFFERSSON||SLR Volkswagen||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||10||20.142||2:31.079||17|
|9||88||Nicky CATSBURG||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team||Hyundai i30 N TCR||10||31.331||2:31.510||12|
|10||69||Jean-Karl VERNAY||Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||10||31.772||2:31.196||18|
|11||111||Andy PRIAULX||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||10||36.466||2:32.393||27|
|12||25||Mehdi BENNANI||SLR VW Motorsport||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||10||37.211||2:32.533||19|
|13||9||Attila TASSI||KCMG||Honda Civic Type R TCR||10||40.633||2:32.908||21|
|14||68||Yann EHRLACHER||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||10||42.004||2:33.258||24|
|15||52||Gordon SHEDDEN||Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||10||43.183||2:32.315||22|
|16||33||Benjamin LEUCHTER||SLR Volkswagen||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||10||45.377||2:32.911||26|
|17||96||Mikel AZCONA||PWR Racing||CUPRA TCR||10||58.401||2:35.688||4|
|18||55||Ma QING HUA||Team Mulsanne||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||10||1:00.734||2:36.248||8|
|19||27||Mitchell CHEAH Min Jie||Hyundai Team Engstler||Hyundai i30 N TCR||10||1:03.709||2:34.479||25|
|20||31||Kevin CECCON||Team Mulsanne||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||10||1:05.014||2:36.786||11|
|21||10||Niels LANGEVELD||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||10||1:07.607||2:37.970||10|
|22||29||Néstor GIROLAMI||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type R TCR||10||1:10.078||2:36.011||3|
|23||12||Rob HUFF||SLR VW Motorsport||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||10||1:17.382||2:36.777||23|
|24||50||Tom CORONEL||Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing||CUPRA TCR||10||1:20.508||2:38.323||20|
|25||15||Hafizh SYAHRIN Bin Abdullah||Hyundai Team Engstler||Hyundai i30 N TCR||10||1:24.275||2:36.365||29|
|26||65||Douglas KHOO Kok Hui||Viper Niza Racing||CUPRA TCR||10||1:36.373||2:37.557||30|
|27||11||Thed BJÖRK||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||10||2:02.312||2:33.012||28|
|28||8||Augusto FARFUS||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team||Hyundai i30 N TCR||10||2:22.601||2:34.775||6|
|R||18||Tiago MONTEIRO||KCMG||Honda Civic Type R TCR||6||DNF||2:37.080||14|
|R||22||Frédéric VERVISCH||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||2||DNF||2:43.708||5|