WTCR Race 1 flash: First win for Ceccon and Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo
Kevin Ceccon scored a first sensational victory in the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO after surviving two safety car restarts to win Race 1 at WTCR JVCKENWOOD Race of Japan at Suzuka.
The result also marks a first victory for Team Mulsanne’s Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR, meaning all seven of WTCR OSCARO’s customer racing brands have won races in 2018. Ceccon is winner number 14 of this action-packed season.
Starting second on the grid, Ceccon followed DHL Pole Position starter Aurélien Comte in the DG Sport Compétition PEUGEOT 308TCR away from the lights, then picked up a great run out of the fast 130R left-hander on lap two to take a lead he would not lose.
“We are quite quick in Japan!” said a delighted Ceccon after stepping from his Alfa. “I had a good, fair fight with Comte and was able to take the lead, then there were so many safety cars! It’s an amazing weekend for me, for the team and for Alfa Romeo. We just have to keep going tomorrow. I start in P10 in Race 2, then in Race 3 I’ll try and do this again from pole position.”
The first safety car interruption followed on lap three after Thed Björk clipped the tyre stack at the chicane when trying to regain a lost place to Gordon Shedden. The second, on lap eight, was for Yann Ehrlacher’s beached ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR which had gone off at 130R having already clashed with Rob Huff’s Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR. But on both occasions Ceccon handled the restarts perfectly to protect his lead and win from Comte by 0.728 seconds.
The YMR Hyundai i30 N TCR of Yvan Muller completed the podium, the Frenchman maintaining his starting position. He is now tied on points with Gabriele Tarquini at the top of the WTCR OSCARO standings.
Muller held off ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport’s Esteban Guerrieri, the Argentinian finishing fourth despite being one of six drivers to incur three-place grid penalties after qualifying. Mehdi Bennani’s Sébastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen was fifth ahead of Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team’s Jean-Karl Vernay, meaning six different customer racing brands filled the top six places.
Comte’s team-mate Mato Homola rose from ninth on the grid to seventh ahead of Tarquini’s BRC Racing Team Hyundai, with Audi Sport Team Comtoyou’s Frédéric Vervisch and Team OSCARO by Campos Racing’s Cupra TCR of Pepe Oriola completing the top 10.
Norbert Michelisz just missed out on points in P11 for BRC Racing Team, with Nathanaël Berthon, Aurélien Panis and Team Mulsanne’s series debutant Luigi Ferrara following next.
Tiago Monteiro was P15 at the end of his heroic return to action following his recovery from serious injuries, the Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda finishing ahead of Denis Dupont’s Audi.
Race 2 of WTCR JVCKENWOOD Race of Japan takes place on Sunday at 11h05 local time, with Race 3 following at 12h30.