Esteban Guerrieri won at Suzuka and reclaimed the lead of the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup as Tiago Monteiro made it two Civic Type R TCRs on the podium at Honda’s home circuit.
Having inherited pole position due to penalties applied to other drivers, Esteban lost the lead on the opening lap, but the ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport driver was able to reclaim the top spot at the end of lap two.
After that he was unchallenged; the Argentinian completing his third win of the year – and the seventh for the Civic Type R TCR – under safety-car conditions due to a late incident further down the field.
Esteban’s victory moved him into a 13-point championship lead with eight races remaining and helped ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport close to within seven points of the top spot in the Teams’ rankings.
Team-mate Nestor Girolami started from the back of the grid due to incurring an engine-change penalty after qualifying, but kept himself out of trouble to finish 18th.
For Portuguese racer Tiago, who made his comeback from injury at Suzuka last year, his podium finish was richly deserved on a day when his KCMG team also won the TCR Japan title at the same circuit.
Penalised by race officials for driving slowly in the treacherous weather conditions in qualifying, he started fourth, but soon climbed a spot and resisted intense pressure from behind to claim his second podium finish of the year.
Team-mate Attila Tassi, who started 19th, fought his way to 21st by the chequered flag; the Hungarian hampered with a sticking handbrake at the start that prevented him getting off the line properly.
Wildcard team-mate Jim Ka To, who was sent to the back of the grid for missing the weighbridge in qualifying, battled hard to finish 22nd on his WTCR debut.
Two more races will be held at Suzuka on Sunday morning.