Comtoyou Racing’s Nathanaël Berthon scored victory in the penultimate FIA World Touring Car Cup race of the season in Saudi Arabia, ahead of Hyundai’s Norbert Michelisz and Comtoyou’s Tom Coronel.
Berthon scored a lights-to-flag win to notch up his second victory of the season, moving the Frenchman closer to claiming second overall in the drivers’ championship standings.
He converted his pole position into the win with a convincing drive, seeing off pressure from BRC Racing’s Michelisz in the early stages before pulling clear as the Hyundai racer struggled in the second half of the race.
Coronel had held third in the early part of the race, but the Dutchman was passed by team-mate Franco Girolami on lap nine on the approach to the Turn 4 cut-through.
Girolami then took the fight to Michelisz, making two late lunges in the closing laps, the second of which had resulted in contact to the Hyundai at Turn 1 and Michelisz cutting the corner, but despite that Girolami was unable to move into second.
Running in third right up to the chequered flag, the Argentine then slowed at the last moment to allow Coronel to claim the final podium place – with Girolami no longer being classed as a wildcard entry after taking over the car of Mehdi Bennani for the weekend.
Girolami was fourth, unable to allow team-mate Gilles Magnus through as well as the Belgian had new champion Mikel Azcona hot on his tail.
Azcona and Magnus also traded paint in the closing laps – after Magnus went wide and gifted Azcona the place on lap 25, they rubbed on the next lap as Magnus fought back through into fifth.
Azcona took sixth, a full five seconds ahead of team-mate Nicky Catsburg in seventh.
Catsburg had claimed the place from Viktor Davidovski on lap eight when the Audi driver went wide at Turn 4, but the Macedonian driver kept him honest for the rest of the race and finished just three tenths behind in eighth.
Zengő Motorsport’s Rob Huff and Münnich Motorsport’s Néstor Girolami completed the top ten, with Huff having claimed ninth from Esteban Guerrieri on lap nine before the Argentine then gave tenth to his team-mate Girolami, who is still hoping to hold on to the runner-up spot in the drivers’ standings.
Guerrieri was thus 11th, ahead of Comtoyou’s wildcard entry of Ahmed Bin Khanen in 12th.
It was a poor race for Team Engstler – Tiago Monteiro finished 13th and last of the drivers on the lead lap, whilst Attila Tassi stalled at the start, which caused a two-lap safety car period, and finished five laps down.
The other Zengő CUPRA of Dániel Nagy was the race’s only retirement due to picking up a puncture after 18 laps.
The last-ever WTCR race is scheduled to get underway at 19:15 GMT (22:15 local time, 20:15 CET).
|1||17||Nathanaël BERTHON||Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR II||28||37:02.491||1:17.052||1|
|2||5||Norbert MICHELISZ||BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse||Hyundai Elantra N TCR||28||1.869||1:17.120||2|
|3||33||Tom CORONEL||Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR II||28||4.573||1:17.081||4|
|4||72||Franco GIROLAMI||Comtoyou Racing||Audi RS3 LMS TCR II||28||5.758||1:17.094||5|
|5||16||Gilles MAGNUS||Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR II||28||9.430||1:17.117||7|
|6||96||Mikel AZCONA||BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse||Hyundai Elantra N TCR||28||10.054||1:17.209||3|
|7||88||Nicky CATSBURG||BRC Hyundai N Racing Team||Hyundai Elantra N TCR||28||15.311||1:17.444||6|
|8||110||Viktor DAVIDOVSKI||Comtoyou Racing||Audi RS3 LMS TCR II||28||15.616||1:17.557||8|
|9||79||Rob HUFF||Zengő Motorsport Services Kft||CUPRA Leon Competición TCR||28||16.576||1:17.584||11|
|10||29||Néstor GIROLAMI||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR||28||28.840||1:17.921||15|
|11||86||Esteban GUERRIERI||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR||28||29.661||1:17.873||10|
|12||24||Ahmed Khaled BIN KHANEN||Comtoyou Racing||Audi RS3 LMS TCR II||28||37.052||1:17.951||13|
|13||18||Tiago MONTEIRO||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR||28||40.153||1:18.274||14|
|14||9||Attila TASSI||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR||23||+ 5 LAPS||1:17.990||9|
|R||99||Dániel NAGY||Zengő Motorsport Services Kft||CUPRA Leon Competición TCR||18||DNF||1:18.024||12|