WTCR Race 2 flash: First win for Vervisch, Muller on podium
Frédéric Vervisch became winner number 15 of the inaugural WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO season as Yvan Muller scored a vital podium finish in Race 2 at WTCR Race of Macau this morning.
Audi Sport Team Comtoyou driver Vervisch pulled off a great pass to demote DHL Pole Position starter Timo Scheider to claim victory, as Muller pushed the ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR all the way to the flag in a thrilling battle for second.
WTCR OSCARO points leader Gabriele Tarquini was eliminated in a first-lap multi-car collision at Lisboa corner, which allowed Muller to close the gap to just 18 points in their duel for the title and ensure a thrilling season showdown in Race 3.
“With 60kg of success ballast for the Audis here, I didn’t expect this,” said a delighted Vervisch. “But JK [Race 1 winner Jean-Karl Vernay] proved it could be done yesterday. I was the only driver in the top 10 not to have won a race, and now I have – at Macau.”
Drama erupted at the tight Lisboa right-hander on lap one, as Scheider led the tightly packed field. Behind him, Pepe Oriola tagged ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport’s Yann Ehrlacher in a move that sent both spinning and triggered a multi-car collision. Those involved included Race 3 DHL Pole Position starter Rob Huff, Race 1 winner Vernay, Norbert Michelisz and most crucially Tarquini, who limped back to the pits for repairs.
Muller, in the knowledge that his title rival was out of the race, now got his head down to score as many points as possible to give himself the best chance to snatch the crown in Race 3.
On lap four the order changed as Vervisch powered past Scheider on the outside at Mandarin to take the lead, while behind them Muller dived down the inside of Kevin Ceccon’s Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR at Lisboa to take third place.
Muller now chased after Scheider and over the remainder of the eight-lap race the pair kept everyone on the edge of their seats with a thrilling battle, the Honda defending firmly but fairly at Lisboa each lap as the YMR Hyundai piled on the pressure. But Scheider used all his experience to cling on and claim second place, his best finish in the WTCR OSCARO, with Muller a close third.
Ceccon claimed fourth, while Esteban Guerrieri rose to fifth ahead of his ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport team-mate Ehrlacher, who somehow recovered from his first-lap collision with Oriola to finish a competitive sixth.
Mehdi Bennani, Nathanaël Berthon, Luigi Ferrara and Aurélien Panis completed the top 10, the latter despite nosing into a tyre barrier late in the race.
Race 3 at WTCR Race of Macau takes place at 11h00 local time.