Race report: Three races, three winners as super-tight WTCR / OSCARO season delivers at Suzuka
Johan Kristoffersson completed the WTCR JVCKENWOOD Race of Japan weekend a winner but it’s Esteban Guerrieri who leaves Suzuka on top on the #RoadToMalaysia, where the 2019 WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO will be decided at the Sepang super-finale in December.
After languishing in P10 in Race 2, Honda-powered Guerrieri – competing at the Japanese make’s home track – hit back to follow Kristoffersson (SLR Volkswagen) home in Race 3. Those points, added to his Race 1 victory, means the ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport driver tops the standings with a six-point advantage over Norbert Michelisz, who took the Race 2 win for BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse.
Kevin Ceccon completed the Race 3 podium in unusual circumstances when he profited from a “miscommunication” by Tiago Monteiro. The Portuguese, thinking the race had run its course under the safety car, headed to the pits in error from third. While he quickly realised his mistake, it was too late to the extent Team Mulsanne’s Ceccon and Cyan Racing Lynk & Co’s Thed Björk had moved ahead.
By re-passing Björk, Monteiro received a 10-second time penalty for overtaking under the safety car and slipped to P15 in the final order. Ceccon, meanwhile, was demoted to sixth after he picked up a five-second penalty for a clash with Rob Huff earlier in the race. Björk therefore inherited third with Gabriele Tarquini moving up to fourth and Andy Priaulx taking fifth following his hefty Race 1 crash. With 24 races run, Björk is third in the standings.
Huff scored his first 2019 podium with second place in Race 2 at the wheel of his SLR VW Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTI R5 as Tarquini held off the charging Ceccon for third.
PWR Racing’s leading rookie Mikel Azcona was eighth in Race 2 but a slow start meant he was unable to convert his third-best Second Qualifying lap into a Race 3 podium for CUPRA.
Michelisz’s 53.888s best in Race 2 earned the Hungarian the TAG Heuer Best Lap Trophy. However, with eighth place the best he could muster in the closing race of the weekend, he will head to WTCR Race of Macau next month playing catch-up in the title chase. In the battle to be crowned top team, Cyan Racing Lynk & Co narrowly heads ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport.
Japan’s Ryuichiro Tomita scored the best finish of the wildcard drivers with P17 in Race 2 but joined team-mate Ritomo Miyata on the DNF list for Race 3. Hong Kong’s Jim Ka To finished all three races on his WTCR / OSCARO debut.