Guerrieri seals vital WTCR Sepang win to set up title showdown

Jack Cozens
Guerrieri seals vital win to set up title showdown
Guerrieri seals vital win to set up title showdown

Esteban Guerrieri ensured the World Touring Car Cup title fight will go down to the season finale by claiming a vital win in a heavily disrupted second Sepang race.

The Honda driver dominated the race either side of a red-flag stoppage that lasted more than an hour, first by charging through the pack in his Civic Type R and then by reclaiming the lead from his team-mate after the restart to earn his fourth victory of 2019.

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Guerrieri had stormed from his ninth-place grid position into the lead before half of the opening lap had been completed, though the race was soon neutralised when Nicky Catsburg's car caught fire.

Catsburg had, moments earlier, caused a collision with his BRC Racing team-mate Norbert Michelisz's title rival Yvan Muller.

Four-time world champion Muller, who like Guerrieri had climbed the order, was fourth when he was hit from behind by Catsburg's Hyundai.

Catsburg, on slick front tyres, followed Muller's line into the Turn 9 hairpin but then moved for the inside on the approach to the corner and T-boned the Cyan Racing driver's Lynk & Co 03.

Muller - who said he was Catsburg's "target" and had been hit "three corners before" - continued, but Catsburg stopped on the grass runoff on the exit of the corner before a fire emerged from the bonnet of his i30 N.

Though the fire was extinguished and Catsburg's car was recovered, a 56-minute delay ensued before the race was resumed under a safety car.

Guerrieri seals vital win to set up title showdown
Guerrieri seals vital win to set up title showdown

The order was also taken from the previous sector, which meant Guerrieri took the restart in second behind his team-mate Nestor Girolami, with Muller fifth and points leader Michelisz 13th.

Guerrieri took the lead shortly after the race resumed on lap four, with Girolami measuring his pace to ensure his Argentinian compatriot could make a break at the front.

The Munnich Motorsport driver did just that and, even though Girolami was passed by Mikel Azcona's PWR Cupra late on, Guerrieri was more than 10 seconds up the road by that point.

A late safety car, deployed when Attila Tassi stopped his KCMG Honda on track, guaranteed Guerrieri the win, which helped him reduce his arrears in the title race to 10 points.

Behind Azcona, double World Rallycross champion Johan Kristoffersson also found a way past Girolami and completed the podium in his Sebastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI.

Girolami finished fourth ahead of the Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce of Kevin Ceccon, while a sixth place finish for Muller signalled the end of his title bid.

Michelisz finished eighth - behind Muller's nephew Yann Ehrlacher - after recovering from an off on the opening lap.

The Hungarian locked up at the Turn 9 hairpin moments after Catsburg and Muller had collided, though was able to rejoin the circuit after dragging his Hyundai i30 N out of the grass.

He took the restart in 13th, but made up two positions in the opening half of the first racing lap then passed Tiago Monteiro exiting the final corner, despite receiving a hit from the KCMG Honda.

Augusto Farfus then moved over to give Michelisz another position, while the Hungarian also overtook Rob Huff's SLR Volkswagen to complete his recovery.

Michelisz will start the final race from pole and shares the front row with Guerrieri.

Huff and fellow SLR driver Benjamin Leuchter made it three Volkswagens in the top 10, while the points were completed by Aurelien Panis (Comtoyou Cupra), Monteiro, the fourth VW of Mehdi Bennani and Audi drivers Jean-Karl Vernay and Niels Langeveld.

Watch the WTCR season finale live on Autosport

Race two result - 11 laps

Pos

Driver

Team

Car

Gap

1

Esteban Guerrieri

Munnich Motorsport

Honda

28m45.146s

2

Mikel Azcona

PWR Racing

Cupra

1.023s

3

Johan Kristoffersson

SLR Volkswagen

Volkswagen

1.368s

4

Nestor Girolami

Munnich Motorsport

Honda

2.198s

5

Kevin Ceccon

Team Mulsanne

Alfa Romeo

2.313s

6

Yvan Muller

Cyan Racing

Lynk & Co

2.500s

7

Yann Ehrlacher

Cyan Performance

Lynk & Co

3.894s

8

Norbert Michelisz

BRC Squadra Corse

Hyundai

4.498s

9

Rob Huff

SLR VW Motorsport

Volkswagen

5.033s

10

Benjamin Leuchter

SLR Volkswagen

Volkswagen

6.270s

11

Aurelien Panis

Comtoyou Cupra

Cupra

6.966s

12

Tiago Monteiro

KCMG

Honda

8.821s

13

Mehdi Bennani

SLR VW Motorsport

Volkswagen

9.511s

14

Jean-Karl Vernay

WRT

Audi

10.095s

15

Niels Langeveld

Comtoyou Audi

Audi

10.705s

16

Mitchell Cheah

Team Engstler

Hyundai

11.274s

17

Ma Qinghua

Team Mulsanne

Alfa Romeo

13.607s

18

Joao Paulo de Oliveira

KC Motorgroup

Honda

14.408s

19

Augusto Farfus

BRC Racing Team

Hyundai

14.667s

20

Tom Coronel

Comtoyou Cupra

Cupra

16.685s

21

Andy Priaulx

Cyan Performance

Lynk & Co

17.847s

22

Hafizh Syahrin

Team Engstler

Hyundai

18.159s

23

Thed Bjork

Cyan Racing

Lynk & Co

19.074s

24

Douglas Khoo

Viper Niza Racing

Cupra

20.589s

25

Frederic Vervisch

Comtoyou Audi

Audi

21.395s

26

Gabriele Tarquini

BRC Squadra Corse

Hyundai

1m10.622s

-

Gordon Shedden

WRT

Audi

Retirement

-

Attila Tassi

KCMG

Honda

Retirement

-

Daniel Haglof

PWR Racing

Cupra

Retirement

-

Nicky Catsburg

BRC Racing Team

Hyundai

Retirement

Drivers' championship

Pos

Driver

Points

1

Norbert Michelisz

0.359

2

Esteban Guerrieri

0.349

3

Yvan Muller

0.325

4

Thed Bjork

0.288

5

Mikel Azcona

0.224

6

Gabriele Tarquini

0.222

7

Yann Ehrlacher

0.22

8

Johan Kristoffersson

0.217

9

Nestor Girolami

0.214

10

Jean-Karl Vernay

0.204

11

Rob Huff

0.204

12

Frederic Vervisch

0.178

13

Nicky Catsburg

0.165

14

Kevin Ceccon

0.144

15

Augusto Farfus

0.142

16

Ma Qinghua

0.133

17

Aurelien Panis

0.127

18

Andy Priaulx

0.117

19

Benjamin Leuchter

0.102

20

Tiago Monteiro

0.099

21

Niels Langeveld

0.063

22

Tom Coronel

0.063

23

Daniel Haglof

0.055

24

Attila Tassi

0.055

25

Mehdi Bennani

0.039

26

Gordon Shedden

0.034

27

Joao Paulo de Oliveira

0.011

28

Robert Dahlgren

0.003

29

Luca Engstler

0.002

Teams' championship

Pos

Team

Points

1

Cyan Racing Lynk & Co

614

2

BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse

581

3

All-Inkl.com Munnich Motorsport

563

4

Cyan Performance Lynk & Co

339

5

SLR Volkswagen

321

6

BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team

310

7

PWR Racing

283

8

Team Mulsanne

277

9

SLR VW Motorsport

244

10

Comtoyou Team Audi Sport

241

11

Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport

240

12

Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing

190

13

KCMG

155


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