Esteban Guerrieri scored a strong fourth-place finish in the first of three races in the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup at Honda’s home circuit, Suzuka, Japan.

The ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport driver started sixth in his Honda Civic Type R TCR, but launched himself up to fourth as the lights went out at the start and held on to finish the 11-lap race there too.

It was the eighth time this season in which the Argentinian has finished in the top five and moved him up to fifth in the Drivers’ Championship with five races – including Sunday’s double-header – to go.

Team-mate Timo Scheider climbed from 24th on the grid to 19th by the finish of a race that was twice interrupted by the safety car; the German pulling off several impressive passing moves on what is only his third weekend racing front-wheel-drive machinery.

Yann Ehrlacher endured a luckless race. Having been shoved into the gravel by another car – which had cut the chicane at the end of the opening lap – he suffered contact from two further rivals; the second incident putting him into the gravel at 130R and out of the race.

Twenty-four hours after he was warmly welcomed back onto the WTCR grid following 14 months recovering from injury, Tiago Monteiro ended his first race in the series in 15th place; two spots higher than where he started.

His Boutsen Ginion Racing team-mate Tom Coronel, the most popular WTCR driver in Japan following five years racing in Formula Nippon and Super GT, also made significant progress. Having started 21st, he finished 17th.

The Suzuka weekend concludes with a pair of races on Sunday.

Esteban Guerrieri

Esteban Guerrieri 86

“After starting sixth, I’m pleased to finish forth. I took new tyres for this race because my grid position was better than for either of the races tomorrow, and it paid off because I was able to make up some positions on the first lap. From there it was a case of keeping my nose clean and waiting for something to happen in front of me. It didn’t and I wasn’t able to make up any more places. I think also we misjudged the tyre pressures slightly, so I wasn’t able to extract maximum performance from the car. It will be tougher tomorrow, so I think we maximised the potential today.”

ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport
Timo Scheider

Timo Scheider 42

“I had a clean race, which is a nice change compared to the Chinese events. I went from 25th on the first lap to 19th at the finish, which was three overtakes on-track and a couple of cars going off or having penalties. The way the BoP is at the moment, it’s not easy for us on straightline speed, so you have to make up all your time in the corners because of what you lose on the straights, and that makes this circuit tough on tyres. It’s a solid result though and I’ve continued to learn front-wheel-drive racing. I’m starting higher up tomorrow, so let’s see what happens.”

ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport
Yann Ehrlacher

Yann Ehrlacher 68

“That was a hugely frustrating race. I started on old tyres so I could keep my new rubber for my second-row start tomorrow, and lost a place on the first lap. Then [Frederic] Vervisch cut the chicane completely and pushed me straight off into the gravel on the exit. It’s not the first time he’s done that kind of thing and it cost me more time and damaged my tyres. Then I lost six places with contact from another car and eventually my race ended after the first safety-car period when I had more contact from behind. If we can improve the set-up for tomorrow, we can do well from fourth on the grid.”

ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport
Tiago Monteiro

Tiago Monteiro 18

“It’s 468 days since I did my last race in the WTCC in Argentina last year, but when I was on the warm-up lap heating my tyres, I swear it felt like only two weeks ago. It was the same when the race started. Everything just felt extremely normal and natural, and on reflection, that’s a very strong feeling. It was a fun race. I had some battles, made up some positions and finished ahead of where I started. Tomorrow I start both races further up than today and we’ve done some good work to improve the car since the first session since yesterday, so I know I’m going to have more fun.”

Boutsen Ginion Racing
Tom Coronel

Tom Coronel 9

“I had a pretty reasonable race and the pace was especially good for the first half of the race. I had a front-row seat when Yann Ehrlacher and Gordon Shedden made contact and I was able to take advantage. I had a great battle with Shedden over the last couple of laps and eventually overtook him to finish 17th – ahead of the guy who won the race two weeks ago. I think today proves that we need to improve our performances in qualifying, because it’s clear we can run a faster race pace than many of the cars we started behind.”

Boutsen Ginion Racing
Dominik Greiner

Dominik Greiner

Team Manager

“Esteban had a very good finish in fourth place, which moves him up to fifth in the championship – his highest position for quite a while – and the race pace for Timo today was also quite encouraging. It’s a shame for Yann that he had some pretty terrible luck. There is definitely some pace to find with set-up adjustments for tomorrow’s races, and we’ll aim to finish as high as we possibly can with all three cars.”

ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport
Olivia Boutsen

Olivia Boutsen

Team Manager

“It’s been such a strong comeback for Tiago today in what is a championship that is becoming more closely-fought every time we come to a new weekend. Of course he knows the team and the car and he’s happy with both, but having him back as a driver has spread a lot of good energy in the garage and I think that’s been good for all of us. The pace shown by Tom was also a positive today and both drivers were able to move forwards and finish without even a scratch on their cars. To see how Tom is absolutely beloved here is very nice and. He’s fantastic with his fans and I think we’re maybe the most popular team here because of it.”

Boutsen Ginion Racing
WTCR Race of Japan

Suzuka Circuit, Japan

WTCR 2018, Round 9

Saturday 27 Oct 2018, 07:00 Europe/London
# Driver Num Nationality Nat. Total Points Pts. Team Constructor Constr. Time/Gap
1 Kevin Ceccon 31 ITA 27 25 Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo 11 laps
2 Aurelien Comte 7 AND 20 20 DG Sport Competition Peugeot +0.728
3 Yvan Muller 48 FRA 17 16 YMR Hyundai +1.319
4 Esteban Guerrieri 86 ARG 14 13 ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda +1.759
5 Mehdi Bennani 25 MAR 12 11 Sébastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen +2.157
6 Jean-Karl Vernay 69 FRA 10 10 Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team Audi +3.609
7 Mato Homola 70 SLK 8 9 DG Sport Competition Peugeot +4.248
8 Gabriele Tarquini 30 ITA 6 8 BRC Racing Team Hyundai +4.583
9 Frederic Vervisch 22 BEL 4 7 Audi Sport Team Comtoyou Audi +5.409
10 Pepe Oriola 74 SPA 2 6 Team OSCARO by Campos Racing Cupra +5.634
11 Norbert Michelisz 5 HUN 0 5 BRC Racing Team Hyundai +6.006
12 Nathanael Berthon 23 FRA 0 4 Comtoyou Racing Audi +6.415
13 Aurélien Panis 21 FRA 0 3 Comtoyou Racing Audi +6.807
14 Luigi Ferrara 16 ITA 0 2 Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo +7.178
15 Tiago Monteiro 18 POR 0 1 Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda +7.816
16 Denis Dupont 20 BEL 0 0 Audi Sport Team Comtoyou Audi +8.513
17 Tom Coronel 9 NDL 0 0 Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda +10.108
18 Gordon Shedden 52 GBR 0 0 Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team Audi +10.723
19 Timo Scheider 42 GER 0 0 ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda +12.858
20 John Filippi 27 FRA 0 0 Team OSCARO by Campos Racing Cupra +14.083
21 Zsolt Szabo 66 HUN 0 0 Zengo Motorsport Cupra +18.297
22 Norbert Nagy 8 HUN 0 0 Zengo Motorsport Cupra +33.515
23 Rob Huff 12 GBR 0 0 Sébastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen +4 laps
24 Yann Ehrlacher 68 FRA 0 0 ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda +DNF
25 Thed Björk 11 SWE 0 0 YMR Hyundai +DNF
Friday 26 Oct 2018, 08:31 Europe/London
# Driver Num Nationality Nat. Total Team Constructor Constr. Time/Gap
1 Kevin Ceccon 31 ITA 5 Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo 2:10.742
2 Gabriele Tarquini 30 ITA 4 BRC Racing Team Hyundai +2:11.441
3 Aurelien Comte 7 AND 3 DG Sport Competition Peugeot +2:11.635
4 Yann Ehrlacher 68 FRA 2 ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda +2:11.746
5 Mehdi Bennani 25 MAR 1 Sébastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen +2:13.608
6 Aurélien Panis 21 FRA 0 Comtoyou Racing Audi +2:11.853
7 Norbert Michelisz 5 HUN 0 BRC Racing Team Hyundai +2:11.855
8 Denis Dupont 20 BEL 0 Audi Sport Team Comtoyou Audi +2:11.886
9 Rob Huff 12 GBR 0 Sébastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen +2:11.981
10 Pepe Oriola 74 SPA 0 Team OSCARO by Campos Racing Cupra +2:12.001
11 Esteban Guerrieri 86 ARG 0 ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda +2:12.001
12 Yvan Muller 48 FRA 0 YMR Hyundai +No time
13 Thed Björk 11 SWE 0 YMR Hyundai +2:12.302
14 Frederic Vervisch 22 BEL 0 Audi Sport Team Comtoyou Audi +2:12.326
15 Mato Homola 70 SLK 0 DG Sport Competition Peugeot +2:12.365
16 Tiago Monteiro 18 POR 0 Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda +2:12.454
17 Jean-Karl Vernay 69 FRA 0 Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team Audi +2:12.555
18 Timo Scheider 42 GER 0 ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda +2:12.614
19 Nathanael Berthon 23 FRA 0 Comtoyou Racing Audi +2:12.664
20 Gordon Shedden 52 GBR 0 Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team Audi +2:12.702
21 Luigi Ferrara 16 ITA 0 Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo +2:12.792
22 John Filippi 27 FRA 0 Team OSCARO by Campos Racing Cupra +2:13.084
23 Tom Coronel 9 NDL 0 Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda +2:13.151
24 Norbert Nagy 8 HUN 0 Zengo Motorsport Cupra +2:13.270
25 Zsolt Szabo 66 HUN 0 Zengo Motorsport Cupra +2:15.297
Friday 26 Oct 2018, 05:45 Europe/London
# Driver Num Nationality Nat. Team Constructor Constr. Time/Gap
1 Aurelien Comte 7 AND DG Sport Competition Peugeot 2:11.536
2 Kevin Ceccon 31 ITA Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo +2:11.643
3 Esteban Guerrieri 86 ARG ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda +2:11.708
4 Yann Ehrlacher 68 FRA ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda +2:11.872
5 Gabriele Tarquini 30 ITA BRC Racing Team Hyundai +2:12.109
6 Yvan Muller 48 FRA YMR Hyundai +2:12.114
7 Mehdi Bennani 25 MAR Sébastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen +2:12.168
8 Norbert Michelisz 5 HUN BRC Racing Team Hyundai +2:12.258
9 Jean-Karl Vernay 69 FRA Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team Audi +2:12.312
10 Mato Homola 70 SLK DG Sport Competition Peugeot +2:12.318
11 Frederic Vervisch 22 BEL Audi Sport Team Comtoyou Audi +2:12.342
12 Pepe Oriola 74 SPA Team OSCARO by Campos Racing Cupra +2:12.455
13 Aurélien Panis 21 FRA Comtoyou Racing Audi +2:12.492
14 Nathanael Berthon 23 FRA Comtoyou Racing Audi +2:12.504
15 Rob Huff 12 GBR Sébastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen +2:12.553
16 Luigi Ferrara 16 ITA Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo +2:12.742
17 Thed Björk 11 SWE YMR Hyundai +2:12.764
18 Timo Scheider 42 GER ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda +2:12.876
19 John Filippi 27 FRA Team OSCARO by Campos Racing Cupra +2:12.877
20 Tiago Monteiro 18 POR Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda +2:13.020
21 Denis Dupont 20 BEL Audi Sport Team Comtoyou Audi +2:13.033
22 Gordon Shedden 52 GBR Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team Audi +2:13.071
23 Tom Coronel 9 NDL Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda +2:13.616
24 Zsolt Szabo 66 HUN Zengo Motorsport Cupra +2:14.211
25 Norbert Nagy 8 HUN Zengo Motorsport Cupra +2:14.936