Michelisz and Coronel share WTCC wins in Japan

WTCC drivers treated 31,000 Japanese fans to a couple of very close and exciting races on Suzuka’s East Circuit where victories were shared between Norbert Michelisz and Tom Coronel.

The World Championship’s trademark that is grounded on paint-swapping and bumper-knocking was thoroughly honoured by all the drivers who did not recede from fighting hard for any possible positions.

In the first race Michelisz managed to get away from the scuffle and claimed a dominant lights-from-flag victory. The first of the season for him and a special one for Honda on its home racetrack. Michelisz became the tenth different race winner during the current season.Behind Michelisz, Alex MacDowall bravely rejected the assaults of Yvan Muller who was determined to celebrate in style his fourth Drivers’ Championship title.

The second race was enlivened by an-all BMW duel between Mehdi Bennani and Coronel. Eventually, the more experienced Dutchman got the better thanks to a brilliant overtaking manoeuvre and won the WTCC 200th race, while Tiago Monteiro gave Honda another podium result.The championship will resume after a five-week break for rounds 21 and 22 that will take place at Shanghai, China on November 3.

Race 1 - Michelisz wins, Norbert Michelisz converted his pole position into his first victory for Honda, giving the Japanese manufacturer a special triumph on its own playground.

Yvan Muller finished the race in third position, behind the Yokohama Trophy winner Alex MacDowall, and clinched his fourth WTCC title.

The first race at Suzuka was split in three parts: the early laps were full of action with close fights for the point position between several group of cars; halfway through the 26-lap distance drivers adopted a more conservative pace; the in the final laps the battle intensified again with plenty of contacts and overtaking.

And this cost Tarquini and Monteiro the possibility to make Honda’s result even greater.

Key moments

Start – Michelisz sprints to the lead from MacDowall; Monteiro passes Muller for 3rd

Lap 1 – Monteiro tries to overtake MacDowall on the outside at T1 but drivers wide and drops to 7th

Lap 3 – Tarquini and Oriola have a close fight for 5th place

Lap 4 – multiple contacts between Tarquini, Oriola, Nash and Monteiro; Nash overtakes Oriola for 6th

Lap 5 – Thompson overtakes Coronel for 10th

Lap 8 – Yoshimoto runs wide at T1 and loses 14th place to Monje

Lap 9 – Oriola, Monteiro, Huff, Bennani and Basseng battle for 7th

Lap 12 – O’Young overtakes Kozlovskiy for 18th

Lap 18 – Monteiro dives inside Oriola at T6, they make contact and Monteiro hits a pile of tyres; Thompson moves up to 6th

Lap 19 – Tarquini loses 5th place because of a puncture

Lap 20 – Oriola is given a drive through for the incident with Monteiro

Lap 23 – Huff overtakes Coronel for 7th

Lap 24 – MacDowall defends second place from Muller and Chilton

Lap 26 – Michelisz wins from MacDowall, Muller is 3rd and clinches the title

Race 2 – Coronel beats Bennani

There is a special feeling between Tom Coronel and Japan. Every time the Dutchman visits the Country of the rising sun he gives his best.

And this was proved again today in the second race, when Coronel managed to overtake a pugnacious Mehdi Bennani to claim his second victory of the season.

It was an unexpected one-two for BMW, with Bennani who won the Yokohama and was close once again to win his first race. Just like two weeks ago in Sonoma.

Third finished Tiago Monteiro, who partly salvaged what was a very tough weekend for Castrol Honda Racing that had high expectations for its home race meeting.

Charles Ng claimed his best result ever in WTCC, ranking seventh after a close, but fair fight with Rob Huff.

Key moments

Start – Bennani takes the lead from Coronel; Michelisz and Muller make contact and crash

Lap 2 – Coronel begins to put pressure on Bennani

Lap 4 – Tarquini and Monteiro fight for 3rd place

Lap 6 – Kozlovskiy and Boardman make contact

Lap 10 – Coronel dives inside of Bennani at T1, but Bennani keeps the leadership

Lap 12 – Oriola (who was 5th) and Kozlovskiy are given a drive through for jump start

Lap 13 – Huff overtakes Ng for 8th place

Lap 17 – Coronel steals the lead from Bennani

Lap 18 – Thompson, Basseng, D’Aste and O’Young fight for 10th place

Lap 24 – MacDowall drops from 9th to 13th

Lap 25 – Ng retakes 7th place from Huff

Lap 26 – Thompson loses 9th place to Basseng after a contact and drops to 12th

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