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WTCR Macau: Tarquini claims title with 10th as Guerrieri wins

Gabriele Tarquini BRC Racing Hyundai i30 WTCR Macau 2018

Gabriele Tarquini claimed the inaugural World Touring Car Cup title after a 10th-place finish in the Macau Guia race season finale, which was won by Munnich Motosport's Esteban Guerrieri.

Tarquini carried an 18-point lead over YMR Hyundai driver Yvan Muller into the final race of the season.

Starting sixth on the grid, Muller needed to finish at least third to have any chance of beating his rival Tarquini, who started in 14th place, to the crown.

Muller initially made up ground at the start, jumping to fourth ahead of nephew Yann Ehrlacher and WRT Audi driver Jean-Karl Vernay, as Guerrieri passed polesitter Rob Huff for the lead on the run to Lisboa.

The prodigious speed of the Audi RS3 LMS meant Vernay was able to repass Muller before Lisboa, though, with Tarquini's BRC Racing Hyundai team-mate Norbert Michelisz also dropping behind the Audi in the second sector to keep Muller away from the podium places.

Tarquini was eliminated from the second race thanks to a collision at Lisboa, but survived any drama at the corner in the finale and by this point had made his way up to ninth, which would have required Muller to finish second.

Muller was brought back within reach of the top three when the safety car was deployed on lap three to allow Aurelien Panis's Comtoyou Audi RS3 LMS to be recovered from Paiol, but Michelisz immediately dropped back away from the leaders on the restart at the end of lap five.

Esteban Guerrieri WTCR Macau start 2018

Muller's team-mate Thed Bjork relegated Tarquini to 10th with a deft overtake into Paiol on the first restart lap, but Tarquini stayed within touching distance of Bjork and the train of cars ahead as the race entered its closing stages.

He was then promoted to ninth when Vernay crashed at Lisboa on lap 11 of the extended 13-lap distance and, despite losing a position to Nathanael Berthon on lap 12, Tarquini's title was guaranteed when Zengo Motorsport driver Zsolt Szabo crashed at 'R' bend and stopped on the exit of the final corner, prompting a safety car.

Muller's eventual fourth-place finish meant Tarquini sealed the title by three points, securing his second World Touring Car crown nine years after he beat Muller by four points to the 2009 World Touring Car Championship title.

Guerrieri held on to claim his second victory of the season, which also helped him secure third place in the drivers' standings, denying Huff a 10th Guia race victory despite the Briton starting two of the weekend's three races from pole.

Behind Michelisz and Muller, Ehrlacher came home fifth in his Munnich Motorsport Honda Civic ahead of Pepe Oriola (Campos Racing Cupra) and the Alfa Romeo Giulietta of Kevin Ceccon.

Bjork, Berthon and Tarquini completed the points. Kevin Tse Wing Kin was again the best-placed of the Guia race wildcard entrants, finishing 17th in his Team Work Motorsport Audi.

Result - 13 laps

PosDriverTeamCarGap
1Esteban GuerrieriMunnich MotorsportHonda37m53.401s
2Rob HuffSebastien Loeb RacingVolkswagen2.368s
3Norbert MicheliszBRC Racing TeamHyundai3.354s
4Yvan MullerYMRHyundai4.488s
5Yann EhrlacherMunnich MotorsportHonda5.367s
6Pepe OriolaCampos RacingCupra5.702s
7Kevin CecconTeam MulsanneAlfa Romeo6.036s
8Thed BjorkYMRHyundai7.130s
9Nathanael BerthonComtoyou RacingAudi7.524s
10Gabriele TarquiniBRC Racing TeamHyundai8.220s
11Ma Qing HuaBoutsen Ginion RacingHonda9.298s
12Mat'o HomolaDG Sport CompetitionPeugeot10.184s
13Frederic VervischComtoyou RacingAudi12.262s
14Tom CoronelBoutsen Ginion RacingHonda12.781s
15Denis DupontComtoyou RacingAudi13.425s
16Aurelien ComteDG Sport CompetitionPeugeot13.908s
17Kevin TseTeam Work MotorsportAudi15.293s
18Andre CoutoMacPro Racing TeamHonda16.101s
19Filipe SouzaChamp MotorsportAudi19.377s
20Norbert NagyZengo MotorsportCupra20.342s
21Billy LoTian Shi Zuver TeamAudi21.329s
22Jean-Karl VernayWRTAudi3 Laps
23John FilippiCampos RacingCupra3 Laps
24Zsolt SzaboZengo MotorsportCupra3 Laps
-Timo ScheiderMunnich MotorsportHondaRetirement
-Aurelien PanisComtoyou RacingAudiRetirement
-Gordon SheddenWRTAudiRetirement
-Luigi FerraraTeam MulsanneAlfa RomeoRetirement
-Mehdi BennaniSebastien Loeb RacingVolkswagenRetirement


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