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Suzuka WTCR: Tarquini wins and opens points lead, Ceccon penalised

Gabriele Tarquini BRC Hyundai Suzuka WTCR 2018

World Touring Car Cup points leader Gabriele Tarquini extended his advantage with victory in the final race at Suzuka, after on-the-road winner Kevin Ceccon picked up a time penalty.

Ceccon crossed the line 2.9 seconds clear of Tarquini, but a five-second penalty for being out of position on the grid dropped the Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo driver to third place.

From pole, race one winner Ceccon fell to fourth on the opening lap as the BRC Racing Hyundai of Tarquini seized the early initiative ahead of Yann Ehrlacher's Munnich Motorsport Honda and Aurelien Comte's DG Sport Peugeot.

Ceccon had recovered to second place and was stalking Tarquini when news emerged of his penalty, which prompted Tarquini to surrender his lead and stick to Ceccon's tail.

In the end the 56-year-old did enough to take his fifth win of 2018 by 1.9s from Comte, as Ehrlacher's podium challenge ended at mid-distance when his Honda slowed with apparent mechanical issues.

Gabriele Tarquini wins Suzuka WTCR 2018

Further back, Mehdi Bennani made a stern pass on Aurelien Panis to grab fourth place on the last lap.

Bennani's team-mate Rob Huff - the reversed-grid race winner earlier in the day - emerged with sixth place a further 10s behind in a chaotic final couple of laps.

Esteban Guerrieri had a long train of cars formed behind, with title contender Yvan Muller, Pepe Oriola and Huff his main pursuers.

Oriola became the first to clear Guerrieri on lap eight of 11. Then on the following lap Guerrieri was tapped into a lurid slide by Muller at 130R, causing the pack to bunch up into the final chicane and Muller to hit the tyre stack.

Muller was forced to pull up with damage, gifting Tarquini a comfortable 39-point lead in the standings heading to the Macau season finale next month.

Oriola would have finished sixth but was penalised for repeatedly cutting the final chicane, gifting the position to Huff.

Benefiting from the chaos to move up into the remaining points positions were Frederic Vervisch, Thed Bjork, Norbert Michelisz and Jean-Karl Vernay.

Tiago Monteiro moved up to 11th, missing out on the final point by just two tenths as he returned to racing following his 2017 injury.

Race three result

PosDriverTeamCarLapsGap
1Gabriele TarquiniBRC Racing TeamHyundai1124m41.704s
2Aurelien ComteDG Sport CompetitionPeugeot111.577s
3Kevin CecconTeam MulsanneAlfa Romeo112.024s
4Mehdi BennaniSebastien Loeb RacingVolkswagen113.140s
5Aurelien PanisComtoyou RacingAudi113.674s
6Rob HuffSebastien Loeb RacingVolkswagen1113.728s
7Frederic VervischComtoyou RacingAudi1118.296s
8Thed BjorkYMRHyundai1119.963s
9Norbert MicheliszBRC Racing TeamHyundai1120.694s
10Jean-Karl VernayWRTAudi1123.015s
11Tiago MonteiroBoutsen Ginion RacingHonda1123.259s
12John FilippiCampos RacingCupra1123.660s
13Timo ScheiderMunnich MotorsportHonda1124.238s
14Tom CoronelBoutsen Ginion RacingHonda1124.639s
15Mat'o HomolaDG Sport CompetitionPeugeot1127.312s
16Gordon SheddenWRTAudi1127.956s
17Norbert NagyZengo MotorsportCupra1128.654s
18Pepe OriolaCampos RacingCupra1137.050s
19Esteban GuerrieriMunnich MotorsportHonda1139.948s
20Nathanael BerthonComtoyou RacingAudi101 Lap
21Yvan MullerYMRHyundai101 Lap
-Yann EhrlacherMunnich MotorsportHonda6Retirement
-Denis DupontComtoyou RacingAudi5Retirement
-Luigi FerraraTeam MulsanneAlfa Romeo5Retirement
-Zsolt SzaboZengo MotorsportCupra0Not started

Drivers' standings

PosDriverPoints
1Gabriele Tarquini291
2Yvan Muller252
3Thed Bjork238
4Pepe Oriola227
5Jean-Karl Vernay216
6Esteban Guerrieri213
7Norbert Michelisz212
8Frederic Vervisch203
9Rob Huff197
10Aurelien Comte191
11Yann Ehrlacher182
12Mehdi Bennani154
13Gordon Shedden122
14Kevin Ceccon83
15Nathanael Berthon71
16Denis Dupont69
17Aurelien Panis53
18Benjamin Lessennes48
19Mat'o Homola46
20Daniel Nagy36
21James Thompson36
22Tom Coronel24
23Fabrizio Giovanardi19
24Norbert Nagy18
25John Filippi14
26Petr Fulin13
27Rene Rast10
28Ma Qing Hua7
29Zsolt Szabo4

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