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WTCR Marrakech: Tarquini leads home Muller in Hyundai 1-2-3

Gabriele Tarquini WTCR Marrakech 2018Gabriele Tarquini negotiated two safety car periods to win his second race of the season-opening World Touring Car Cup round in Marrakech, as Hyundai cars locked out the podium places.

Tarquini resisted a challenge from YMR's Thed Bjork for the majority of the race before being allowed a clear run to the finish when Bjork handed second to his team-mate Yvan Muller late on.

As Tarquini leapt away from pole position at the start of the race, Muller chopped over to the left-hand side of the grid to block off the second BRC Hyundai of Norbert Michelisz.

That delayed both drivers, with Michelisz running into the back of Muller's i30 N, and allowed Bjork to sweep around the outside into second.

Yann Ehrlacher also got past Michelisz for fourth in his Honda Civic.

As he had done in Saturday's first race, Tarquini managed a gap of a less than a second back to Bjork as the top two escaped from Muller in the first part of the race - with the Frenchman instead forced to focus on keeping nephew Ehrlacher at bay.

A first safety car period was initiated at the end of lap eight to allow marshals to recover the stricken Comtoyou Audi of Frederic Vervisch, who ended up in the run-off area at Turn 7 when his brakes appeared to fail and he narrowly avoided wiping out Pepe Oriola.

The race resumed two laps later but was neutralised again when Aurelien Panis hit the wall exiting Turn 6 after making contact with the Peugeot of Mato Homola as the pair came out of the Turns 4/5 chicane.

The safety car was brought in at the end of lap 17 of the new 23-lap distance, and 2017 WTCC champion Bjork stayed with Tarquini on the restart as Muller again left a gap between himself and the sister YMR car.

But after a couple more laps following Tarquini, Bjork ended his challenge for the lead when he ceded second to Muller on lap 19 of 23, slotting back in between his team-mate and Ehrlacher.

That left Tarquini with a comfortable run to the flag, winning by 2.524 seconds from Muller as Bjork beat Ehrlacher to the final podium spot.

Michelisz reported an oil temperature issue in his gearbox before the first safety car period but was told to continue by his BRC team.

He resisted a challenge from the two Sebastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi cars of Mehdi Bennani and Rob Huff to claim fifth.

James Thompson grabbed another points finish in his Munnich Motorsport Honda in eighth, ahead of race two winner Jean-Karl Vernay in the leading Audi.

Oriola scored the final point after beating team-mate John Filippi in the second Campos Racing Cupra and Tom Coronel's Boutsen Ginion Honda.

Three-time British Touring Car champion Gordon Shedden was classified 18th and four laps down after visiting the pits.

Result - 23 laps

1Gabriele TarquiniBRC Racing TeamHyundai35m32.310s
2Yvan MullerYMRHyundai2.524s
3Thed BjorkYMRHyundai2.922s
4Yann EhrlacherMunnich MotorsportHonda4.645s
5Norbert MicheliszBRC Racing TeamHyundai5.937s
6Mehdi BennaniSebastien Loeb RacingVolkswagen6.631s
7Rob HuffSebastien Loeb RacingVolkswagen8.121s
8James ThompsonMunnich MotorsportHonda9.932s
9Jean-Karl VernayWRTAudi10.743s
10Pepe OriolaCampos RacingCupra13.740s
11John FilippiCampos RacingCupra14.599s
12Tom CoronelBoutsen Ginion RacingHonda14.838s
13Mat'o HomolaDG Sport CompetitionPeugeot16.011s
14Esteban GuerrieriMunnich MotorsportHonda16.475s
15Norbert NagyZengo MotorsportCupra18.464s
16Aurelien PanisComtoyou RacingAudi19.526s
17Benjamin LessennesBoutsen Ginion RacingHonda20.205s
18Gordon SheddenWRTAudi4 Laps
19Fabrizio GiovanardiTeam MulsanneAlfa Romeo6 Laps
-Nathanael BerthonComtoyou RacingAudiRetirement
-Gianni MorbidelliTeam MulsanneAlfa RomeoRetirement
-Zsolt SzaboZengo MotorsportCupraRetirement
-Frederic VervischComtoyou RacingAudiRetirement
-Aurelien ComteDG Sport CompetitionPeugeotNot started
-Denis DupontComtoyou RacingAudiWithdrawn

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