Norbert Michelisz has kept his FIA WTCC title hopes alive by claiming victory in Sunday’s Main Race at Twin Ring Motegi, which was halted by officials at three-quarters distance.
The Hungarian started his Honda from pole position and led the Volvos of Nicky Catsburg and Néstor Girolami for two reconnaissance laps behind the Safety Car before the green flag was waved on Lap 3.
Championship leader Thed Björk made the first critical overtaking move of the race at the end of the first green-flagged lap, passing the Honda of Ryo Michigami for fifth place.
The Japanese driver tried to re-pass the Swede, but only succeeded in making light contact with his Volvo S60. Michigami’s race would soon end when he slid off track into the Turn 9 gravel.
The rain continued to fall more heavily, prompting drivers to take a more cautious approach. Despite this, Opening Race winner Tom Chilton spun his Citroën out of eighth place at Turn 9 and lost two places.
The Race Director called the Safety Car back into action on Lap 7 and it remained on track until Lap 10 before the race was stopped as conditions showed no sign of improving.
Michelisz was therefore declared the winner ahead of Catsburg and Girolami. With 75% of the scheduled race distance completed, full points were awarded. The Hungarian therefore moves into second place in the Drivers’ Championship standings, 16.5 points behind Björk, with Catsburg a further 19 points adrift.
The penultimate round of the 2017 FIA World Touring Car Championship takes place on November 18-19, with the series making a popular return to the streets of Macau.
|2017 FIA WTCC Race of Japan – Main Race Final Classification (9 laps)|
|1.||Norbert Michelisz||Castrol Honda WTCC Team Civic WTCC||22:17.924||MF|
|2.||Nick Catsburg||Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo S60 TC1||+ 0.392||MF|
|3.||Néstor Girolami||Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo S60 TC1||+ 1.798||MF|
|4.||Esteban Guerrieri||Castrol Honda WTCC Team Civic WTCC||+ 3.306||MF|
|5.||Thed Björk||Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo S60 TC1||+ 5.554||MF|
|6.||Mehdi Bennani||Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée||+ 6.196||IND|
|7.||Yann Ehrlacher||RC Motorsport LADA Vesta WTCC||+ 7.063||IND|
|8.||Kevin Gleason||RC Motorsport LADA Vesta WTCC||+ 7.537||IND|
|9.||John Filippi||Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée||+ 7.911||IND|
|10.||Tom Chilton||Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée||+ 8.764||IND|
|11.||Rob Huff||Münnich Motorsport Citroën C-Elysée||+ 9.633||IND|
|12.||Kris Richard||Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze||+ 11.544||IND|
|13.||Tom Coronel||ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze||+ 12.472||IND|
|14.||Dániel Nagy||Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC||+ 13.254||IND|
|15.||Filipe de Souza||RC Motorsport LADA Vesta WTCC||+ 14.899||IND|
|16.||Zsolt David Szabó||Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC||+ 16.640||IND|
|DNF.||Ryo Michigami||Honda Racing Team JAS Civic WTCC||Spin||MF|
Image via FIA WTCC Media