Muller, Priaulx win for Lynk & Co in Macau as Malaysia and Sepang rev up for WTCR title showdown
November 17th 2019
*Michelisz battles on to lead four-way fight for world crown on the #RoadToMalaysia *Guerrieri, Muller and Björk firmly in title contention within 11 points heading to Sepang *Björk, Ceccon join Muller on Race 2 podium as Priaulx scores Race 3 victory *King of Macau Huff settles for second in Race 3, Vernay completes top three
FIA WTCR Race of Macau: Race report*, 17 November
WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO 2019
Rounds 25, 26 and 27 of 30, Circuito da Guia, 14-17 November
Andy Priaulx scored a first WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO victory on the streets of Macau to complete a dream weekend for Chinese brand Lynk & Co, which powered all three race winners.
Yvan Muller bagged two wins for Cyan Racing to set up a thrilling title decider at the season super-finale, which takes place at the Sepang International Circuit next month where he’ll battle Norbert Michelisz, Esteban Guerrieri and Thed Björk for world touring car racing’s biggest prize.
Michelisz (BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse) leaves Macau on the #RoadToMalaysia with a slender nine-point advantage over ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda driver Guerrieri after both made it through a tough weekend.
Hungarian Michelisz finished second in Race 1 before battling to P10 and P12 in the two Sunday races – a crash in Second Qualifying Q1 hitting his hopes of a bigger score. Guerrieri, meanwhile, was a Race 1 DNF but took fourth in Race 2 and P10 in Race 3. He was set to start Race 2 on the DHL pole only to be hit with a grid penalty and drop to fourth in the order.
There were no such problems for Muller (Cyan Racing Lynk & Co), who converted his First Qualifying DHL pole into a Race 1 victory, which he followed up with a charging drive from fifth to first in Race 2. Sixth in Race 3 puts him two points behind Guerrieri and 11 behind Michelisz.
Kevin Ceccon (Team Mulsanne) hit back from his WTCR JVCKENWOOD Race of Japan podium disappointment to twice finish in the top three aboard an Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR.
Rob Huff was fourth in Race 1 but his pursuit of a record-extending 10th Macau Guia Race win were dashed when he was unable to turn the Race 3 DHL qualifying top spot into a victory for SLR VW Motorsport. He finished second with Jean-Karl Vernay taking third for Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport. Johan Kristoffersson, the double FIA World Rallycross champion, was the best Macau rookie with fifth in Race 2 and fourth in Race 3 for SLR Volkswagen.
Nicky Catsburg (BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team) picked up the TAG Heuer Best Lap Trophy for his Race 2 charge, while Billy Lo was the best of the wildcard racers, the Macanese driver a weekend high of P23 in Race 1.
Tom Coronel was twice in the top 15 for Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing as Luca Engstler scored his first WTCR / OSCARO points in Race 3, having been called up to deputise for Augusto Farfus at BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team.
RACE 3 REPORT: PRIAULX BEATS HUFF FOR FIRST WTCR VICTORY
Andy Priaulx scored his first WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO win after defeating fellow Briton Rob Huff in a tense Race 3.
The Cyan Performance Lynk & Co driver got the drop on DHL Pole Position starter Huff to take the lead off the line, then held back a four-car train for all 11 laps to secure his first WTCR / OSCARO race victory, which he dedicated to his daughter Daniella, who turns 16 today.
Huff was disappointed to miss out on what would have been his 10th race win at Macau, but congratulated his rival. “It was a normal start – I’ve always struggled to get the Golf off the line. It is what it is. We were down on the straights as always. But it was a good race and to be beaten by Andy, I don’t mind really. It’s always enjoyable to race with him.”
Meanwhile, the #RoadToMalaysia title race tightened up further after a closely fought weekend of racing. Points leader Norbert Michelisz finished where he started in P12, with his closest rival Esteban Guerrieri in P10 and double Macau race winner Yvan Muller in sixth. It leaves Michelisz just nine points ahead of Guerrieri, with Muller two points further back with the WTCR Race of Malaysia season super-finale to come.
Priaulx was forced to work hard for his win, with Huff close behind him for most of the lap. But the Lynk & Co just had the edge over the Golf on the long straights, with third-placed Jean-Karl Vernay in his Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport RS 3 LMS pressuring Huff lap after lap under braking at Lisboa. SLR Volkswagen’s Johan Kristoffersson completed the four-car train at the front to finish on a strong note on his first visit to Macau.
Thed Björk ran in a lonely fifth for much of the race, but on the last lap sacrificed his position and points for Muller by dropping back. That elevated BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team’s Nicky Catsburg to fifth, with Muller sixth and Björk seventh.
The fourth Lynk & Co of Yann Ehrlacher completed a successful weekend for the Chinese customer racing brand with eighth, ahead of Kevin Ceccon’s Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR. Guerrieri completed the top 10 at the end of a difficult weekend for ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport but remains firmly in title contention, nine points behind Michelisz.
Tom Coronel was P11 for Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing, ahead of Michelisz. Comtoyou Team Audi Sport’s Niels Langeveld finished P13, with BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team’s Luca Engstler and Comtoyou’s Frédéric Vervisch completing the points scorers.
RACE 2 REPORT: MULLER WINS AGAIN IN MACAU
Yvan Muller claimed his second victory at WTCR Race of Macau after leading team-mate Thed Björk to a Cyan Racing Lynk & Co one-two in the reverse-grid Race 2.
Muller's win, which followed his Race 1 triumph on Saturday, means the Frenchman has made further gains in the #RoadToMalaysia points chase. Title leader Norbert Michelisz finished in P10, with Esteban Guerrieri in fourth – which leaves the Hungarian 11 points ahead of the Argentine, with Muller just a further six points back.
The result all came down to the start. DHL Pole Position winner Yann Erhlacher and Björk made clean getaways from the front in their Lynk & Cos, while Muller shot away from fifth to pass both Guerrieri and then third-placed starter Kevin Ceccon well before the field were through Lisboa.
Then during that first lap, Ehrlacher and Björk both let Muller past to ensure the Frenchman would take the win and lead Lynk & Co’s WTCR / OSCARO title push.
Running third at the end of lap one, Ehrlacher then lost a place to Guerrieri and dropped further down the order as he slid wide out of Lisboa, where Guerrieri pulled off an impressive passing move. But Guerrieri’s ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR didn’t hold on to third place for long. On lap three, Ceccon’s Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR drafted past him to claim his second podium of the weekend, following the Italian’s third place in Race 1.
Guerrieri then faced a stern challenge from BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team’s Nicky Catsburg. The Dutchman came close to passing him on the last lap, but Guerrieri held firm. Then Catsburg sacrificed his race and dropped down the order to allow Michelisz to score more points for the title and move into P10.
Behind Guerrieri in fourth, SLR Volkswagen’s Johan Kristoffersson finished fifth as the top Macau rookie, ahead of Erhlacher and the fourth Lynk & Co of Andy Priaulx. Comtoyou Team Audi Sport’s Frédéric Vervisch was eighth, ahead of Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport’s Jean-Karl Vernay and Michelisz.
Gabriele Tarquini (BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse) finished in P11, ahead of Catsburg, Tom Coronel (Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing), Rob Huff (SLR VW Motorsport) and the final points scorer in P15, PWR Racing’s Mikel Azcona.
Niels Langeveld was delayed in a first-lap collision at Lisboa, where Mehdi Bennani and Attila Tassi also collided later in the race.
RACE 1: MACAU MASTER MULLER BEATS MICHELISZ
Yvan Muller converted his DHL Pole Position into a Race 1 victory at WTCR Race of Macau as runner-up Norbert Michelisz took the WTCR / OSCARO points lead.
Cyan Racing Lynk & Co’s Muller made a clean start and was never seriously threatened by Michelisz, both of whom were racing with #RoadToMalaysia points in mind. Team Mulsanne’s Kevin Ceccon claimed the final podium position in his Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR as Andy Priaulx sacrificed third place to benefit Lynk & Co team-mate and title contender Thed Björk.
From the start Priaulx and team-mate Yann Ehrlacher worked together to push fourth placed starter Ceccon down to fifth as Björk dropped a place to seventh behind Rob Huff. Björk, who started the race third in the points, then gained a place back when Ehrlacher sacrificed his race by dropping behind him, which also benefitted Ceccon and Huff.
Priaulx made a similar team sacrifice on the last lap. He dropped from third to sixth, allowing Björk to finish fifth behind Ceccon and Huff.
Esteban Guerrieri, who started the day with a slight two-point advantage at the top of the standings, had a poor race in his ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR. The Argentine was forced to start from the back after an engine change, but with no hope of scoring points retired to the pits.
Michelisz now leads Guerrieri by 18 points from Muller and Björk with many more points on offer from Races 2 and 3 on Sunday.
Of the front-runners, Comtoyou Team Audi Sport’s Frédéric Vervisch gained the most places in the race, rising from P11 on the grid to finish seventh behind Priaulx, ahead of Ehrlacher and BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse’s Gabriele Tarquini. Nicky Catsburg’s Hyundai i30 N TCR completed the top 10.
The other points scorers were SLR Volkswagen's Johan Kristoffersson, Aurélien Panis (Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing, WTCR / OSCARO newcomer Robert Dahlgren (PWR Racing), Néstor Girolami and KCMG's Tiago Monteiro in P15.
WTCR Race of Macau formed the Suncity Group Guia Race. Before racing got underway, the #WTCR2019SUPERGRID gathered together to support the World Day of Remembrance For World Traffic Victims. An image is attached.
RACE WINNER QUOTES
Race 1: Yvan Muller (Cyan Racing Lynk & Co), Lynk & Co 03 TCR
“Anything can happen at Macau and the most important thing is to qualify well, then do a good start and a good first lap. Then you have to manage to go fast but not do any mistake, especially with someone like Norbi on your back, which is fast and safe. I just kept the gap of what I needed to be the leader without taking too much risk, because on this track even when you don’t take the risk you can crash. There is always pressure. Even when you are on your own there is pressure at Macau, but especially when you have a fast boy like Norbi! Again, there is two races in one race. One, you have to push hard and not make any mistakes, and then you have to keep the car behind you behind you.”
Race 2: Yvan Muller (Cyan Racing Lynk & Co), Lynk & Co 03 TCR
“That was a fantastic start. I knew if I wanted to have the opportunity to win, I had to pass the Alfa and the Honda, and then I knew it was my team-mates in front and the place would be clear, so I was very focused on that. But sometimes you make a fantastic start, sometimes you don’t and you don’t know really why, but this one was a good one. We knew of course straight away, because they were starting one and two with Thed, that if that was the case at the first corner Yann would let Thed past and if I was joining them, I would pass both of them. And it happened and thanks very much to Thed and Yann because that victory could have been them.”
Race 3: Andy Priaulx (Cyan Performance Lynk & Co), Lynk & Co 03 TCR
“I’m really pleased to get that one out of the way. I had Rob behind me all the way and that guy is pretty special around here, so I was working hard the whole race. But I’m delighted to win my first race of the year. I had a big disappointment in Ningbo, led for nearly the whole race and lost in the last two laps, but anyway… Thanks to everybody and to the team for supporting me. It’s nice to get it. It’s a tough championship and I’m really happy to have managed to win a race. There’s always a concern [about team orders], but I’m just very proud that the team supported me. Christian [Da hl] is a racer and he wants to be number one. That’s what he wants most of all. To be leading here was special, with Rob pushing me all the way and JK just behind, so I had to push like hell and I didn’t think of anything else. I still have my Buddha with me in my wash bag from 2005. I can’t wear it any more for the races because you are not allowed to wear necklaces or anything, but today I have two lucky charms: I have the Buddha with me and it’s my daughter’s 16th birthday. Every year I miss her birthday. She was born when I was racing in Macau, she came a month early and today’s her 16th birthday, so that was a special win for her.”
DHL Pole Position Race 1: Yvan Muller (FRA) Lynk & Co 03 TCR
Race 1 winner: Yvan Muller (FRA) Lynk & Co 03 TCR
Race 1 fastest lap: Frédéric Vervisch (BEL) Audi RS 3 LMS
DHL Pole Position Race 2: Yann Ehrlacher (FRA) Lynk & Co 03 TCR
Race 2 winner: Yvan Muller (FRA) Lynk & Co 03 TCR
Race 2 fastest lap: Nicky Catsburg (NLD) Hyundai i30 N TCR
DHL Pole Position Race 3: Rob Huff (GBR) Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR
Race 3 winner: Andy Priaulx (GBR) Lynk & Co 03 TCR
Race 3 fastest lap: Andy Priaulx (GBR) Lynk & Co 03 TCR
TAG Heuer Best Lap Trophy: Nicky Catsburg (NLD) Hyundai i30 N TCR
TAG Heuer Most Valuable Driver: Yvan Muller (FRA) Lynk & Co 03 TCR
Provisional results and standings:
WTCR Race of Malaysia, Sepang International Circuit, 12-15 December (part of the Races of Malaysia event also featuring the FIM Endurance World Championship for motorbikes):