Marrakesh WTCR: Tarquini doubles up with Race 3 win

Marrakesh WTCR: Tarquini doubles up with Race 3 win
By: Jack Cozens
Apr 8, 2018, 6:17 PM

Gabriele Tarquini negotiated two safety car periods to win his second race of the season-opening World Touring Car Cup round in Marrakech, as Hyundai cars locked out the top three.

James Thompson, ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR
Jean-Karl Vernay, Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team Audi RS 3 LMS
Rob Huff, Sébastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR
Aurélien Comte, DG Sport Competition Peugeot 308TCR
Yann Ehrlacher, ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR
Thed Björk, YMR Hyundai i30 N TCR
Denis Dupont, Comtoyou Racing Audi RS 3 LMS
Gabriele Tarquini, BRC Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR

The Italian resisted a challenge from YMR's Thed Bjork for the majority of the race before being allowed a clear run to the finish when Bjork handed second to his teammate Yvan Muller late on.

As Tarquini leapt away from pole position at the start of the race, Muller chopped over to the left-hand side of the grid to block off the second BRC Hyundai of Norbert Michelisz.

That delayed both drivers, with Michelisz running into the back of Muller's Hyundai, and allowed Bjork to sweep around the outside into second, while Yann Ehrlacher also got past Michelisz for fourth in his Honda.

As he had done in Saturday's first race, Tarquini managed a gap of a less than a second back to Bjork as the top two escaped from Muller in the first part of the race - with the Frenchman instead forced to focus on keeping nephew Ehrlacher behind.

A first safety car was deployed at the end of lap eight to allow marshals to recover the stricken Comtoyou Audi of Frederic Vervisch, who ended up in the run-off area at Turn 7 and narrowly avoided wiping out Pepe Oriola when his brakes appeared to fail.

The race resumed two laps later but was neutralised again when Aurelien Panis hit the wall exiting Turn 6, having made contact with the Peugeot of Mato Homola as the pair came out of the Turn 4/5 chicane.

That safety car was brought in at the end of lap 17 of the new 23-lap distance, and 2017 WTCC champion Bjork stayed with Tarquini on the restart as Muller again left a gap between himself and the sister YMR car.

But after a couple more laps following Tarquini, Bjork ended his challenge for the lead when he ceded second to Muller on lap 19 of 23, slotting back in between his teammate and Ehrlacher.

That left Tarquini with a comfortable run to the flag, winning by 2.524 seconds from Muller as Bjork beat Ehrlacher to the final podium spot.

Michelisz reported an oil temperature issue in his gearbox before the first safety car period but was told to continue by his BRC team, and resisted a challenge from the two Sebastien Loeb Racing Volkswagens of Mehdi Bennani and Rob Huff to claim fifth.

James Thompson grabbed another points finish in his Munnich Motorsport Honda in eighth, ahead of the leading Audi of race two winner Jean-Karl Vernay.

Pepe Oriola scored the final point after beating teammate John Filippi in the second Campos Racing Cupra and Tom Coronel's Boutsen Ginion Honda.

Three-time British Touring Car champion Gordon Shedden was classified 18th and four laps down after visiting the pits.

Race Results:

1 30 ITA Gabriele Tarquini Hyundai -
2 48 FRA Yvan Muller Hyundai 2.524
3 11 SWE Thed Björk Hyundai 2.922
4 68 FRA Yann Ehrlacher Honda 4.645
5 5 HUN Norbert Michelisz Hyundai 5.937
6 25 MAR Mehdi Bennani Volkswagen 6.631
7 12 GBR Rob Huff Volkswagen 8.121
8 15 GBR James Thompson Honda 9.932
9 69 FRA Jean Karl Vernay Audi 10.743
10 74 ESP Pepe Oriola Seat 13.74
11 27 FRA John Filippi Seat 14.599
12 9 HOL Tom Coronel Honda 14.838
13 70 SVK Mato Homola Peugeot 16.011
14 86 ARG Esteban Guerrieri Honda 16.475
15 8 HUN Norbert Nagy Seat 18.464
16 21 FRA Aurelien Panis Audi 19.526
17 63 BEL Benjamin Lessennes Honda 20.205
  52 GBR Gordon Shedden Audi 4 laps
  88 ITA Fabrizio Giovanardi Alfa Romeo 6 laps
  23 FRA Nathanaël Berthon Audi 8 laps
  10 ITA Gianni Morbidelli Alfa Romeo 10 laps
  66 HUN Zsolt David Szabo Seat 15 laps
  22 BEL Frederic Vervisch Audi 17 laps
  7 FRA Aurélien Comte Peugeot 23 laps


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