Jose Maria Lopez takes provisional WTCC title
Norbert Michelisz headed a Honda 1-2-3 on home soil as Jose Maria Lopez became provisional FIA World Touring Car champion for 2016 following two action-packed races at Twin Ring Motegi, venue of WTCC JVCKENWOOD Race of Japan.
After finishing a battling fourth in the opening race, the Argentine was leading the main race comfortably from the DHL pole position when he slowed to let Citroen team-mate Yvan Muller take what was the four-time world champion’s first victory of 2016. However, second place was enough to put Lopez’s third WTCC title beyond doubt - assuming the FIA confirm it.
Elsewhere, Sebastien Loeb Racing drivers Tom Chilton and Mehdi Bennani shared the WTCC Trophy honours, while Citroen closed in on a third makes’ crown.
Rob Huff and Tiago Monteiro completed the opening race podium for Honda with Monteiro finishing third behind Muller and Lopez in the main race. Nestor Girolami marked his return to WTCC action with fifth for Polestar Cyan Racing in the main race, as Nicky Catsburg and Gabriele Tarquini scored points for LADA.
*Jose Maria Lopez is the provisional FIA World Touring Car champion for 2016 subject to official FIA confirmation. This is because the WTCC promoter, Eurosport Events, has made a request to the FIA Touring Car Commission to cancel WTCC Race of Thailand, which will mean the championship will run over 11 events rather than 12, subject to final ratification by the FIA World Motor Sport Council.