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.
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.
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