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Suzuka WTCR: Guerrieri wins opener, Priaulx left fuming

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Suzuka WTCR: Guerrieri wins opener, Priaulx left fuming
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Oct 26, 2019, 7:02 AM

Honda driver Esteban Guerrieri moved back into the World Touring Car Cup points lead with victory in the opening race at Suzuka, while Andy Priaulx was left fuming after being taken out by Nicky Catsburg.

Guerrieri, who had qualified second, started from pole courtesy of a grid penalty for fellow Honda driver Tiago Monteiro, but dropped a position on the opening lap as he squabbled with the Comtoyou Racing Audi of Frederic Vervisch and Niels Langeveld.

While Guerrieri rebuffed Vervisch into Turn 1, Langeveld got a better drive off the first corner and passed both before the run to the Esses.

But Langeveld's spell in the lead was short-lived, as Guerrieri executed a crucial pass on the following lap and retained the lead for the remainder of the race.

Langeveld followed Guerrieri home to claim his first WTCR podium, while Monteiro was gifted the final podium position when Vervisch stopped with a puncture - an incident that brought out the safety car.

The leading Cyan Racing Lynk & Co of Thed Bjork was fourth ahead of race three polesitter Johan Kristoffersson, who brought his Sebastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen home ahead of the WRT Audi of Jean-Karl Vernay.

Gabriele Tarquini (BRC Racing Hyundai) and the Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeos of Kevin Ceccon and Ma Qing Hua completed the top 10.

Yvan Muller started the race in 25th but staged a strong fightback in the race to finish 11th ahead of teammate and nephew Yann Ehrlacher, while erstwhile points leader Norbert Michelisz was 13th.

Michelisz, who now trails Guerrieri by 13 points, was boosted in the order by a controversial late incident between his BRC Hyundai teammate Catsburg and Priaulx.

Catsburg was handed a position by Michelisz in order to attack Priaulx, but the two came to blows at the first corner as Priaulx attempted to defend his position.

Priaulx moved slightly to the right before he braked in order to cover off the inside line, but Catsburg hit the brakes later and hit the Lynk & Co driver, who was fired off into the gravel trap.

The three-time World Touring Car champion later gesticulated in the direction of Michelisz's car as the field came towards the first corner behind the safety car.

Catsburg was classified a provisional 14th, though the incident between he and Priaulx is being investigated, while Aurelien Panis completed the points in his Comtoyou Cupra.

All WTCR races are shown live on Motorsport.tv here.

Race results:

Cla # Driver Chassis Laps Gap
1 86 Argentina Esteban Guerrieri
Honda 26
2 10 Netherlands Niels Langeveld
Audi 26 00.460
3 18 Portugal Tiago Monteiro
Honda 26 01.602
4 11 Sweden Thed Björk
Lynk & Co 26 01.991
5 14 Sweden Johan Kristoffersson
Volkswagen 26 02.400
6 69 France Jean-Karl Vernay
Audi 26 03.699
7 1 Italy Gabriele Tarquini
Hyundai 26 05.208
8 31 Italy Kevin Ceccon
Alfa Romeo 26 05.842
9 55 China Ma Qing Hua
Alfa Romeo 26 08.091
10 12 United Kingdom Rob Huff
Volkswagen 26 08.566
11 100 France Yvan Muller
Lynk & Co 26 09.990
12 68 France Yann Ehrlacher
Lynk & Co 26 10.865
13 5 Hungary Norbert Michelisz
Hyundai 26 11.700
14 88 Netherlands Nick Catsburg
Hyundai 26 12.857
15 21 France Aurelien Panis
CUPRA 26 13.207
16 8 Brazil Augusto Farfus
Hyundai 26 14.250
17 50 Netherlands Tom Coronel
CUPRA 26 14.589
18 96 Spain Mikel Azcona
CUPRA 26 15.310
19 29 Argentina Nestor Girolami
Honda 26 16.476
20 7 Japan Ryuichiro Tomita
Audi 26 17.109
21 37 Sweden Daniel Haglof
CUPRA 26 17.949
22 9 Hungary Attila Tassi
Honda 26 18.883
23 19 Jim Ka To
26 20.266
25 Morocco Mehdi Bennani
Volkswagen 23
111 Guernsey Andy Priaulx
Lynk & Co 21
77 Ritomo Miyata
Audi 14
33 Germany Benjamin Leuchter
Volkswagen 7
22 Belgium Frederic Vervisch
Audi 6
52 United Kingdom Gordon Shedden
Audi 6
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About this article

Series WTCR
Event Suzuka
Author Jack Cozens