Photo: WTCR Media

Gabriele Tarquini wins the 2018 WTCR title at Macau, as Guerrieri wins last race

Gabriele Tarquini has won the 2018 World Touring Car Cup drivers’ title by three points over Yvan Muller, while Esteban Guerrieri denies Macau master Rob Huff to victory in the final race of the season at Macau.

The Italian finished the race in tenth place, with title rival Yvan Muller doing all he could to move up to fourth, but the Frenchman was pegged back by Tarquini’s BRC Racing team-mate Norbert Michelisz throughout the race.

At the start, Guerrieri had a better start and overtook Huff for the lead, who was more focussed on keeping yesterday’s race winner Jean-Karl Vernay’s Audi behind, who’d moved quickly past Michelisz’s Hyundai.

Tarquini meanwhile had made his way past the YMR Hyundai of Thed Björk and was up to ninth, which meant Muller needed to finish in the top two in order to secure the title.

The safety car was out on lap three when Aurélien Panis crashed out at Paiol, and when the race restarted, Björk quickly passed Tarquini for ninth which would prove pivotal in the teams’ championship battle, with YMR now set to outscore BRC in the standings.

The race then turned into a three-car battle between Guerrieri, Huff and Vernay for the win, with Vernay keeping Huff honest, while the Briton was clearly faster than the Honda of Guerrieri but couldn’t find his way past.

Lap after lap, Huff pressured Guerrieri not only through Lisboa but up the hill, trying to find his way through or pressure Guerrieri into a mistake.

On lap 11, Vernay made a mistake at Lisboa and buried his Audi into the wall, which effectively handed Guerrieri third in the championship on the spot.

The race was able to continue with Vernay’s car quickly recovered, but with two laps to go, the safety car was called then the Zengo Cupra TCR of Zsolt Szabo crashed out at Fisherman’s Bend, with no time left to restart the race.

Guerrieri therefore won the race ahead of Huff and Michelisz, with Muller fourth, while Tarquini had just been passed by the Audi of Nathanael Berthon on the prior lap, but still had done enough to secure the first WTCR title, three points ahead of Muller.

While Muller’s team YMR secured the teams’ title in their first touring car season by three points.