Norbert Michelisz claims TCR World Tour title as Frédéric Vervisch wins dramatic Macau finale
Norbert Michelisz held on to clinch the inaugural TCR World Tour title at the end of a dramatic season-finale on the streets of Macau, which featured late heartbreak for Rob Huff that derailed a possible against-the-odds championship charge for the British Audi driver.
Michelisz had started the race from tenth, courtesy of reverse-grid rules after topping qualifying on Friday, and stayed out of the headlines in the 11-lap finale, coming home in eighth place as he led the Hyundai charge.
That effort, however, was enough for the Hungarian to seal his second world touring car title as he returned to the top of the throne, adding to his 2019 WTCR crown.
It briefly seemed as though Rob Huff would be able to stage another Macau masterclass and potentially upset Michelisz in the title race, the Briton having worked his way up to third and running in the lead group by the time the race came to an explosive climax on lap eight.
Huff was chasing down second-placed Santiago Urrutia’s Lynk & Co at the back of the circuit when onboard images showed the duo making contact, dislodging Huff’s bonnet and breaking the windscreen on his Audi RS 3 LMS.
With the loose bonnet blocking Huff’s view, the Briton had no other option but to pit for repairs, ending any hopes of a title upstage. Huff eventually rejoined, but one lap down and out of contention.
Instead it opened a half-door for the last title contender, Yann Ehrlacher, who had miraculously survived a high-speed encounter with the daunting Mandarin walls on the opening lap to now find himself in third – behind team-mate Urrutia.
That was ultimately not enough to make up the necessary ground on Michelisz, and with second place not making do either, the Cyan Racing team opted to let the pair maintain position across the line.
Despite Huff’s heartbreak, there was slight consolation for Comtoyou Audi as Frédéric Vervisch held on for his first win of the season, the Belgian also setting the fastest lap of the race for good measure having worked his way into the lead with a pass on Urrutia on lap eight.
Michelisz wins the title on 440 points, ten clear of Ehrlacher and 26 ahead of Huff.
The race had got off to a dramatic start. First, Lo Zhe Ho stalled as the lights went out and was clipped from behind by Paul Poon, who retired on the spot with broken suspension.
That incident, in combination with a bigger crash from Ben Bergwanna at Mandarin just seconds later, triggered a safety car intervention as Urrutia maintained an early lead from pole ahead of the fast-starting Vervisch, Björk and Huff.
At the restart, Urrutia began creating a small but crucial gap to second-placed Vervisch as the race settled in. Vervisch was able to close in on the leading Cyan Racing Lynk & Co car each lap going down the straight to Lisboa but appeared unable to make the move stick until finally doing so with his lap eight pass.
Simultaneously, Huff drew past Björk for third as the Comtoyou squad started smelling serious air of hope, only for the incident with Urrutia to occur moments later and kill off all championship dreams.
Urrutia led a strong final race of the year for the Cyan Racing Lynk & Co squad, who took second, third, fourth and fifth, with Néstor Girolami finishing sixth in the MacPro Racing Honda.
John Filippi was seventh in the final Comtoyou Audi, with Michelisz in eighth ahead of BRC Hyundai team-mates Mikel Azcona and Marco Butti.