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Vervisch fights to Guia win as Michelisz clinches TCR World Tour title

Comtoyou Racing’s Frédéric Vervisch fought to a hard-earned race two victory in the TCR World Tour on the streets of Macau, as BRC Racing’s Norbert Michelisz secured the outright drivers’ title.

Going into the race, with Michelisz having won the opening sprint on Saturday, only Rob Huff and Yann Ehrlacher could challenge the Hyundai driver for the title.

Huff started from sixth on the grid, whilst Ehrlacher was in eighth. At the start, Huff made a slow getaway but was into fourth by the time the field got to Lisboa, team-mate John Filippi having dropped back and Huff having got a run on Cyan Racing’s Ma Qing Hua.

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Ehrlacher, meanwhile, clipped the wall at Mandarin corner but was lucky to continue, although the same was not true of Team Clairet’s Ben Bargwanna behind, who thumped the barriers hard in his Peugeot and was out of the race.

Combined with a start line shunt between Paul Poon and Lo Sze Ho, it meant a two-lap safety car period would be required to clear the circuit.

Racing resumed on lap four, with Vervisch quickly piling the pressure on the leading Lynk & Co of Urrutia, although in the first few laps of the restarted action the Lynk & Co was able to open enough of a margin on the mountain section of the circuit to fend off Vervisch’s advances.

On lap seven, however, Vervisch was able to stay close to Urrutia throughout the lap, giving him the slipstreaming advantage into the fast first sector of lap eight, with the Belgian duly completing the pass for the lead going into Mandarin corner.

Huff in fourth was simultaneously able to advance past Thed Björk for third, and with team-mate Vervisch now controlling the pace at the front, was quickly onto the back of Urrutia by the fourth sector of the lap, with the title battle coming alive.

At this stage, with Michelisz running in ninth, he would not have had enough points for the title, and thus the title fight looked to have reignited in the last moments of the season, with Vervisch set to forefeit position to help Huff.

That quickly became a moot point, however; Urrutia was slow into Donna Maria, where overtaking is prohibited on the run to the Melco hairpin, and Huff nudged the back of the Lynk & Co.

That resulted in the Brit’s bonnet flying up, and both Huff’s hopes of a record extending Guia race win and the TCR World Tour title were over, as he had to pit to have the bodywork secured.

Vervisch put in the fastest lap and pulled away to record his second Macau touring car win, ahead of Urrutia in second, almost four seconds back at the end.

With victory for Vervisch, it also means all nine TCR World Tour full-time regulars took at least one win in the inaugural year of competition for the series.

Despite clattering the wall on the opening lap, Ehrlacher completed the podium in third, and also moved ahead of Huff in the overall rankings to end the year as runner-up to Michelisz.

Björk was fourth, having allowed his team-mate by on the eventful eighth lap, ahead of team-mate Ma in fifth.

MacPro Racing’s Néstor Girolami brought the leading Honda home in sixth, after passing Comtoyou’s John Filippi, who was seventh, three laps from the finish.

New champion Michelisz ultimately finished in eighth following an uneventful race for the Hungarian, ahead of BRC Racing team-mates Mikel Azcona in ninth and Marco Butti in tenth.

Deng Bao Wei was the leading local entrant in 11th, whilst Huff finished in 12th after rejoining the race following his pitstop.

Michelisz sealed the title with a total tally of 440 points, ahead of Ehrlacher (430), Huff (414), Girolami (346) and Vervisch (343) etc.

Race result

1 122 Frédéric VERVISCH Audi Sport Comtoyou Audi RS3 LMS TCR II 11 32:26.904 2:30.555 4
2 112 Santiago URRUTIA Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 FL TCR 11 3.714 2:31.492 1
3 168 Yann EHRLACHER Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 FL TCR 11 3.993 2:30.614 8
4 111 Thed BJÖRK Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 FL TCR 11 4.935 2:30.937 2
5 155 MA Qing Hua Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 FL TCR 11 5.333 2:30.948 5
6 129 Néstor GIROLAMI MacPro Racing Honda Civic Type-R FL5 TCR 11 6.043 2:31.055 7
7 27 John FILIPPI Audi Sport Comtoyou Audi RS3 LMS TCR II 11 7.145 2:30.919 3
8 105 Norbert MICHELISZ BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR 11 17.034 2:31.159 10
9 196 Mikel AZCONA BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR 11 17.613 2:31.372 9
10 18 Marco BUTTI BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR 11 18.505 2:31.386 12
11 33 DENG Bao Wei 109 Racing Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 11 1:43.119 2:41.996 17
12 179 Rob HUFF Audi Sport Comtoyou Audi RS3 LMS TCR II 11 1:50.951 2:31.109 6
13 15 Ken TIAN Kai QMA Motorsports Audi RS3 LMS TCR 11 1:54.270 2:43.731 16
14 22 YAN Chuang Fancy Teamwork Lynk & Co 03 TCR 10 + 1 LAP 2:37.225 14
R 71 Ben BARGWANNA Team Clairet Sport – Hangcha Racing Peugeot 308 TCR 0 DNF N/A 11
R 1 LO Sze Ho Evolve Racing Hyundai Elantra N TCR 0 DNF N/A 13
R 21 Paul POON Tak Chun Teamwork Motorsport Audi RS3 LMS TCR II 0 DNF N/A 15
NS 6 LI Weng Ji Z.SPEED Team Hyundai i30 N TCR DNS N/A
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