Photo: Macau GP

Norbert Michelisz wins opening Macau race to extend points lead

BRC Hyundai’s Norbert Michelisz took a giant leap towards the TCR World Tour title with victory in the opening race of the Macau season-finale, although all three championship contenders remain in the running going into Sunday’s concluder.

Michelisz controlled proceedings on his way to victory, leading away from pole and holding off the Honda of Néstor Girolami throughout.

Title contender Rob Huff finished third, using all of his Macau expertise to fend off the advances of Michelisz’s team-mate Mikel Azcona.

Azcona challenged Huff hard throughout the race, the Spaniard dragging alongside on the entry to Lisboa on three separate occasions, but Huff held firm on the inside to protect third place.

There was disaster at the start for final title contender Yann Ehrlacher, meanwhile, who bogged down and slipped from the front row of the grid to seventh. Ehrlacher was let past Cyan Racing Lynk & Co team-mate Ma Qing Hua on lap three, but was unable to make further inroads and came home sixth.

It means Michelisz extends his championship lead to 18 points ahead of Huff going into Sunday’s all-deciding race, with Ehrlacher a further two behind.

Huff’s Comtoyou Audi team-mate Frédéric Vervisch finished fifth, the Belgian briefly under investigation for a potential start infringement that ultimately yielded no further action.

Ehrlacher led home the quartet of Cyan Racing Lynk & Co cars, with Ma in seventh, Thed Björk in eighth, and Santiago Urrutia taking ninth.

John Filippi (Audi) rounded out the top ten.

In an otherwise relatively collected race, there were a pair of incidents involving the TCR Asia Challenge invitee drivers. Tian Kai came to a stop in the middle of the road at Police on lap one, but the car was quickly removed by the efficient track marshals and no safety car was required.

Paul Poon then spun into the barriers at Paiol on lap five, but was able to continue.

Race 2, which will decide the inaugural TCR World Tour championship outcome, takes place at 10:35 local time (CET+7) on Sunday.