Suzuka WTCR: Ceccon delivers Alfa Romeo's first win
Kevin Ceccon delivered Alfa Romeo its first race victory in the FIA World Touring Car Cup after passing Aurelien Comte to win the opening race of the weekend at Suzuka.
Ex-GP2 racer Ceccon survived two safety car restarts en route to victory in his Team Mulsanne-run Alfa, having picked off DG Sport Peugeot driver Comte exiting 130R on the second lap.
The first of these came when a tyre stack ended up in the middle of the track at the final chicane on the third lap - the consequence of a wheel-to-wheel duel between Gordon Shedden and Thed Bjork that ended in terminal damage for the latter - wiping out a lead of one second for Ceccon.
Action resumed on lap six, but two laps later the safety car was deployed again when Yann Erhlacher's Munnich Motorsport Honda ended up in the gravel on the outside at 130R.
What was initially scheduled to be a nine-lap race was extended to 11 as a result, and while Comte ran Ceccon close on the final restart at the start of lap 10, he soon had to switch his attentions to defending from Yvan Muller's YMR Hyundai.
Muller couldn't find a way by countryman Comte in the remaining two laps however, and was forced to settle for third - drawing him level at the top of the points table with fellow Hyundai man Gabriele Tarquini.
Esteban Guerrieri (Munnich Honda) made up two grid spots from sixth in the early laps as he found a way by both Mehdi Bennani (Sebastien Loeb Racing VW) and Jean-Karl Vernay (WRT Audi), and held on to fourth.
Benanni and Vernay completed the top six behind him, ahead of the second DG Peugeot of Mat'o Homola, Tarquini, Frederic Vervisch (Comtoyou Audi) and Race 2 polesitter Pepe Oriola (Campos Cupra).
Both Muller and Tarquini are now on 251 points with five races to go, with Bjork (YMR Hyundai) falling 17 behind as a result of his failure to score.
Tiago Monteiro completed his comeback race in 15th, two places higher than he started in his Boutsen Ginion Honda.
Besides Ehrlacher and Bjork, the remaining non-finisher was Rob Huff (Loeb VW) who suffered rear suspension damage shortly before the first safety car period.
Tarquini, Bjork among drivers hit with Suzuka grid penalties
Suzuka WTCR: Huff ends six-month win drought