Thed Björk drove flawlessly to claim victory in the final FIA World Touring Car Cup race at Vila Real, his second race win of the season, leading the BRC Racing Team duo of Gabriele Tarquini and Norbert Michelisz to a Hyundai 1-2-3.

Having hustled his rapidly-rebuilt Yvan Muller Racing car to pole position, the Swede made the best start to lead the field while Tarquini got the jump on teammate Michelisz to slot into second place.

Björk built such a lead over the opening three laps that he took his joker lap early and still retained the race lead over Tarquini.

It proved to be a decisive call as the Safety Car was subsequently called into action on no less than three occasions, bunching the field and delaying many drivers’ decisions to take their compulsory joker lap out of fear of losing track position.

The first interruption came so marshals could retrieve Norbert Nagy’s broken down Zengõ Motorsport Cupra, and once again Björk was able to gap the chasing field at the restart.

The second full-course caution came when Fabrizio Giovanardi, who looked on course to claim Team Mulsanne’s first points’ finish of the season, crashed his Alfa Romeo trying to take his joker lap in the hope of undercutting Björk’s teammate Yvan Muller. The Italian came to a halt on the start/finish line with broken suspension.

The race restarted on Lap 12, leaving just three laps for the bulk of the field to take their joker lap. No one proved brave enough to do so at the end of the lap, which proved decisive when Gordon Shedden stopped his WRT Audi after he hopped a chicane kerb and broke a driveshaft.

That left one green flag lap for the remaining runners to take their joker lap, which vaulted the Comtoyou Audi of Frédéric Vervisch and the Boutsen Ginion Honda of Benjamin Lessennes into the top ten as they had taken theirs earlier in the race.

Björk’s win moves him to fifth in the standings, while Muller – who was one of the major victims of delaying his joker lap and finished outside the points – maintains a reduced lead in the Drivers’ Championship, just 22 points ahead of Münnich Motorsport’s Yann Ehrlacher and BRC’s Gabriele Tarquini.

The next round of the World Touring Car Cup takes place at the Slovakiaring on July 14th-15th.

2018 FIA World Touring Car Cup Race of Portugal – Race 3 Final Classification (15 laps)
Driver Team Laps Result Pts
1. Thed Björk MRacing – YMR 15 36:21.453 30
2. Gabriele Tarquini it BRC Racing Team 15 + 3.193 23
3. Norbert Michelisz BRC Racing Team 15 + 3.640 19
4. Pepe Oriola es Team OSCARO by Campos Racing 15 + 4.170 16
5. Mat’o Homola DG Sport Compétition 15 + 4.781 13
6. Frédéric Vervisch be Audi Sport Team Comtoyou 15 + 5.205 10
7. Yann Ehrlacher ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport 15 + 5.796 7
8. Benjamin Lessennes be Boutsen Ginion Racing 15 + 6.099 4
9. Aurélien Panis Comtoyou Racing 15 + 6.710 2
10. Jean-Karl Vernay Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team 15 + 7.216 1
11. Yvan Muller MRacing – YMR 15 + 7.534
12. Edgar Florindo Rui Edgar Macedo Florino 15 + 8.965
13. Esteban Guerrieri ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport 15 + 9.318
14. Denis Dupont be Comtoyou Racing 15 + 9.333
15. José Rodrigues Target Competition 14 Wheel
16. John Filippi Team OSCARO by Campos Racing 13 Puncture
17. Gordon Shedden Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team 12 Driveshaft
Not Classified Team Laps Result
DNF. Nathanaël Berthon Comtoyou Racing 9 Driveshaft
DNF. Fabrizio Giovanardi it Mulsanne SRL 8 Accident
DNF. Norbert Nagy Zengõ Motorsport 3 Mechanical
DNF. Tom Coronel Boutsen Ginion Racing 2 Puncture
DNS. Gianni Morbidelli it Mulsanne SRL Mechanical
DNS. Zsolt Dávid Szabó Zengõ Motorsport Damage
DNS. Aurélien Comte DG Sport Compétition Damage
WD. Rob Huff Sébastien Loeb Racing Withdrew
WD. Mehdi Bennani Sébastien Loeb Racing Withdrew
WD. James Thompson ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Withdrew

* Post-Race Penalties:

  • None

Images via FIA WTCR Media

The following two tabs change content below.

Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.