Norbert Michelisz

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Esteban Guerrieri won the final WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO race of the year as Gabriele Tarquini secured the inaugural title after a nail-biting climax to WTCR Race of Macau.

As ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport’s Guerrieri soaked up immense pressure from DHL Pole Position starter Rob Huff throughout the race, Tarquini rose from his lowly P14 on the grid to score a single point for P10. Ahead of him, title rival Yvan Muller finished just off the podium in fourth – not enough to claim the crown, with Tarquini’s winning advantage just three points.

“My emotions are here, I cannot speak,” said an overjoyed Guerrieri, who had won his second race of the season. “It is such a joy. To finish the year with a win at Macau was my target and I have achieved it.”

Tarquini was also full of emotion after an intense weekend in which the title could so easily have slipped through his fingers, especially after his crash in qualifying that resulted in him starting so low down the order.

“I was under pressure after qualifying,” said the 56-year-old. “As you call me, I am the oldest fox – and I won!”

Guerrieri got the drop on Huff at the start to take a lead he would not lose, but there was further drama at Lisboa as Timo Scheider and Race 2 winner Frédéric Vervisch overshot the corner. That helped Tarquini gain positions and at the end of the first lap he was in the points, in ninth. Ahead of him, Muller had gained a place from his sixth place on the grid to be running fifth.

At the front, Guerrieri, Huff and Race 1 winner Jean-Karl Vernay began to stretch away, only to be pegged back on lap three when the safety car was called upon to retrieve Aurélien Panis’s stricken Audi.

Following the restart on lap six, Tarquini found himself hustled down to P10 by Muller’s YMR team-mate Thed Björk in a move that would have consequences for the destination of the teams’ title.

Then on lap 11 Vernay made a mistake at Lisboa and crunched his Audi into the barrier. That elevated BRC Racing Team’s Norbert Michelisz to third and Muller to fourth. Now Tarquini was back to ninth – but not for long as Comtoyou Racing’s Nathanaël Berthon demoted him to the final points-paying position.

A lap later Zsolt Zsabó crashed his Zengő Motorsport Cupra TCR heavily at the final turn, and with his car stranded in the middle of the track, the race and season concluded under the safety car.

Behind Guerrieri, Huff, Michelisz and Muller, ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport’s Yann Ehrlacher was fifth ahead of Pepe Oriola, Kevin Ceccon, Björk, Berthon and title winner Tarquini.

The result meant there was a big consolation for Muller. He might have lost the drivers’ title, but his YMR squad had clinched the teams’ crown by just three points from fellow Hyundai runner BRC Racing Team.