Qatar, Race 2: Guerrieri wins finale, Björk is 2017 champion!
"Unbelievable, absolutely crazy"
Polestar Cyan Racing ace Thed Björk wrapped up the 2017 FIA World Touring Car Championship with a secure third place in the Main Race at WTCC DHL Race of Qatar, as Honda’s Esteban Guerrieri won the final race of the season at the Losail International Circuit on Friday night.
Swede Björk claimed his first WTCC title without any serious pressure after title rival Norbert Michelisz could do no better than eighth in his Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team Civic.
“Unbelievable, absolutely crazy,” said the new champion on the radio as he crossed the finish line. “Thank you so much everybody.”
Once he’d stepped from the car, Björk was almost lost for words. “Now I can breath again,” he said with a big smile. “This project has been amazing coming in like a rookie last year. I don’t know what to say!
“The last laps were fantastic, some of the best of my life. My mental training, with my coach this year, has been amazing this year. I was even happy starting the race, despite the pressure.”
Guerrieri was never threatened after starting from the DHL Pole Position in the 12-lap race. He and Björk were joined on the podium by ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport’s Rob Huff, who made a determined bid to rise from his third position on the grid by taking to the grass on the run down to Turn 1 at the start. Huff made sure of second place, but could do nothing about the Honda ahead of him.
“It was a great race,” said Guerrieri. “We decided to make it clean and push, then see what happened for Norby [Michelisz]. We had a plan B, but he had bad luck in qualifying this morning. For me, my Honda Civic was really quick. We improved it from this morning and I enjoyed driving this car for one last time.”
Nicky Catsburg played the lead support to Björk this time to follow the new champion home fourth in his Volvo S60, ahead of WTCC Trophy champion Tom Chilton. The Sébastien Loeb Racing driver had taken a narrow lead in the independents’ championship earlier in the evening by winning the Opening Race in Qatar.
His team-mate Mehdi Bennani lost all hope of beating the Briton to the title at Turn 1 following the start. Heavy contact with WTCC legend Yvan Muller pushed him off and a few laps later the Citroën C-Elysée WTCC retired with damage and a puncture on the front right corner.
“Amazing!” said an overjoyed Chilton after the race, in which he was also confirmed as third in the overall points standings. “I get to go to the FIA gala with all the big boys like Lewis Hamilton!”
Campos Racing’s Kris Richard rounded out the top six in his Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 following a great pass on Muller, who finished seventh ahead of Michelisz.
Sébastien Loeb Racings’s John Filippi and ROAL Motorsport’s Tom Coronel completed the top 10 as a thrilling 2017 WTCC season drew to a close.
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