Yvan Muller claimed a lights-to-flag victory in the opening World Touring Car Cup race at Macau. The Lynk & Co driver won by four-tenths of a second from BRC Hyundai’s Norbert Michelisz, who reclaims the lead of the Drivers’ Championship standings.
While it was a controlled showing by Muller to keep his own championship aspirations alive, team tactics within the Cyan Racing camp worked to the benefit of teammate and title contender Thed Björk and at the expense of fellow Lynk & Co runners Andy Priaulx and Yann Ehrlacher.
Priaulx slowed before the final corner on the last lap, sacrificing a maiden WTCR podium to slot in behind Björk and promoting the Swede to fifth on the road. That handed the final spot on the podium to Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo driver Kevin Ceccon, with Race 3 pole-sitter Rob Huff (SLR VW Motorsport) promoted to fourth.
Earlier in the race, Ehrlacher had his own instruction from the Cyan Racing pit wall and dropped in behind Björk to help keep his title aspirations alive. Ehrlacher would later be passed by the Comtoyou Audi of Frédéric Vervisch at Lisboa and eventually finished in eighth.
The assistance from the pit wall was not enough to keep Björk in front of Muller in the Drivers’ Championship standings, amid rumours of a growing rift between the teammates as their championship battle reaches its climax.
Michelisz returns to the top of the standings thanks to a point-less race for Esteban Guerrieri, whom he now leads by 18 points. The Münnich Motorsport Honda driver started from the back of the grid thanks to an engine change penalty and was mired towards the rear of the field in what was essentially a write-off race.
Muller’s victory vaults him to third in the championship standings, 36 points behind Michelisz and, more importantly, 11 clear of Björk.
|2019 FIA WTCR Guia Race of Macau – Race 1 Final Classification (8 laps)|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result||Pts|
|1.||Yvan Muller||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||8||20:30.047||25|
|2.||Norbert Michelisz||BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse||8||+ 0.405||20|
|3.||Kevin Ceccon||Team Mulsanne||8||+ 1.644||16|
|4.||Rob Huff||SLR VW Motorsport||8||+ 2.153||13|
|5.||Thed Björk||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||8||+ 2.882||11|
|6.||Andy Priaulx||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||8||+ 3.169||10|
|7.||Frédéric Vervisch||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||8||+ 3.397||9|
|8.||Yann Ehrlacher||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||8||+ 4.704||8|
|9.||Gabriele Tarquini||BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse||8||+ 4.918||7|
|10.||Nicky Catsburg||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team||8||+ 5.921||6|
|11.||Johan Kristoffersson||SLR Volkswagen||8||+ 6.576||5|
|12.||Aurélien Panis||Comtoyou Team DHL Cupra Racing||8||+ 8.174||4|
|13.||Robert Dahlgren||PWR Racing||8||+ 10.155||3|
|14.||Néstor Girolami||Münnich Motorsport||8||+ 12.134||2|
|15.||Tiago Monteiro||KCMG||8||+ 12.946||1|
|16.||Luca Engstler||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team||8||+ 13.543|
|17.||Mehdi Bennani||SLR VW Motorsport||8||13.967|
|18.||Attila Tassi||KCMG||8||+ 20.708|
|19.||Mikel Azcona||PWR Racing||8||+ 27.199|
|20.||Tom Coronel||Comtoyou Team DHL Cupra Racing||8||+ 28.746|
|21.||Jean-Karl Vernay||Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport||8||+ 34.821|
|22.||Benjamin Leuchter||SLR Volkswagen||8||+ 40.324|
|23.||Billy Lo Kai Fung||Tian Shi Zuver Team||8||+ 45.767|
|24.||Esteban Guerrieri||Münnich Motorsport||7||+ 1 lap|
|Not Classified||Team / Entry||Laps||Reason|
|DNF.||Niels Langeveld||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||5||Collision|
|DNF.||Ma Qing Hua||Team Mulsanne||5||Collision|
|DNS.||Gordon Shedden||Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport||Withdrawn|
|DNS.||Jim Ka To (WC)||KC Motorgroup||Withdrawn|
- The top fifteen classified finishers (excluding wildcard entries) and their respective teams are awarded championship points on a 25-20-16-13-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 sliding scale.
- To be advised.
Images via FIA WTCR Media