Cyan Racing Lynk & Co’s Muller made a clean start and was never seriously threatened by Michelisz, both of whom were racing with #RoadToMalaysia points in mind. Team Mulsanne’s Kevin Ceccon claimed the final podium position in his Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR as Andy Priaulx sacrificed third place to benefit Lynk & Co team-mate and title contender Thed Björk.
“Amazing,” said a delighted Muller after his third win of the WTCR / OSCARO season. “I retired from driving in 2016 and I thought I would never come back. Now I’m back in the car and even better I’m winning. This was a big team effort. Thank you to my team-mates because they push me and make me faster.”
From the start Priaulx and team-mate Yann Ehrlacher worked together to push fourth placed starter Ceccon down to fifth as Björk dropped a place to seventh behind Rob Huff. Björk, who started the race third in the points, then gained a place back when Ehrlacher sacrificed his race by dropping behind him, which also benefitted Ceccon and Huff.
Priaulx made a similar team sacrifice on the last lap. He dropped from third to sixth, allowing Björk to finish fifth behind Ceccon and Huff.
Esteban Guerrieri, who started the day with a slight two-point advantage at the top of the standings, had a poor race in his ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR. The Argentine was forced to start from the back after an engine change, but with no hope of scoring points retired to the pits.
Michelisz now leads Guerrieri by 18 points from Muller and Björk with many more points on offer from Races 2 and 3 on Sunday.
Of the front-runners, Comtoyou Team Audi Sport’s Frédéric Vervisch gained the most places in the race, rising from P11 on the grid to finish seventh behind Priaulx, ahead of Ehrlacher and BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse’s Gabriele Tarquini. Nicky Catsburg’s Hyundai i30 N TCR completed the top 10.
The other points scorers were SLR Volkswagen's Johan Kristoffersson, Aurélien Panis (Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing, WTCR / OSCARO newcomer Robert Dahlgren (PWR Racing), Néstor Girolami and KCMG's Tiago Monteiro in P15.
RACE WINNER QUOTES
Race 1: Yvan Muller (Cyan Racing Lynk & Co), Lynk & Co 03 TCR
“Anything can happen at Macau and the most important thing is to qualify well, then do a good start and a good first lap. Then you have to manage to go fast but not do any mistake, especially with someone like Norbi on your back, which is fast and safe. I just kept the gap of what I needed to be the leader without taking too much risk, because on this track even when you don’t take the risk you can crash. There is always pressure. Even when you are on your own there is pressure at Macau, but especially when you have a fast boy like Norbi! Again, there is two races in one race. One, you have to push hard and not make any mistakes, and then you have to keep the car behind you behind you.”
Race 2 at WTCR Race of Macau, which forms the second part of the legendary Suncity Group Macau Guia Race, takes place on Sunday at 08h20 local time.
*Race 1 results are provisional, subject to change