Vila Real, Race 2: Michelisz wins in the WTCC from pole
"This is just incredible"
Norbert Michelisz led all the way to claim an assured FIA World Touring Car Championship victory in the Main Race of the WTCC Race of Portugal in Vila Real.
The Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team driver led Polestar Cyan Racing’s Thed Björk and local hero Tiago Monteiro all the way over the course of the 13-lap race. Monteiro’s third place in his Honda Civic WTCC consolidated his new lead in the title standings, which he’d taken from Volvo S60 driver Nicky Catsberg in the Opening Race on the spectacular 4.785-kilometre street circuit.
“This is just incredible,” said Michelisz, who has been suffering with a poorly stomach all week. “I must offer a huge thank you to the team because the car was brilliant. In some stages I was controlling the race, but then Thed was closing the gap, so I had to push.
“Since the Nürburgring I’ve been back on it. Expect an action packed rest of the season from my side.”
While Michelisz had things under control at the front, all eyes were on the ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Citroën C-Elysée WTCC of Rob Huff, who was kicking himself after stalling from his front-row starting position beside DHL pole position winner Michelisz.
Huff finished the first lap down in 11th place, but was predictably on a furious charge to make up for his mistake.
The ‘joker’ laps, introduced to the WTCC for the first time this weekend, had little effect on the top order despite the alternative route that was mandatory for each driver to use once costing an extra four seconds of lap time.
Once the ‘joker’ route was open on lap three, the front-runners wasted little time in banking their laps. But Huff waited until the end of lap six and bucked the trend by proving able to jump both Opening Race winner Mehdi Bennani and Polestar Cyan Racing’s Néstor Girolami. He was now running sixth.
Huff then closed in on Sébastien Loeb Racing’s Tom Chilton and harried his fellow Briton until an opportunity presented itself on lap 11. Chilton left a gap in the fast right-hander after the chicane and Huff dived through with typical commitment for fifth. He closed in on Catsberg’s Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo, but ran out of time to challenge for fourth.
Behind Chilton, team-mate Bennani secured seventh to go with his Opening Race victory, while Campos Racing’s Esteban Guerrieri stole eighth place from Girolami on the last lap.
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