Last weekend saw the World Touring cars back in action in Japan at the Twin Ring Motegi. The Japanese circuit would see the championship potentially decided as Lopez came into the weekend 117 points clear with 110 left to score at the end of the weekend.
It would be Lopez and Muller who would secure the front row of the feature race, while Honda’s Rob Huff and Norbet Michelisz would hold the front row for the opening race.
Race 1 saw the Hondas lead from the front with Thed Bjork slotting in behind them, Monteiro was in hot pursuit of the leading three as he tried to keep his championship hopes alive. Further down the field, Hugo Valente would drop out early with damage, trying to get it fixed before the second race. The second Volvo of Nestor Griolami as stuck behind a group of 4 Citroens as Lopez and Muller tried to fight back from their 9th & 10th place starts.
5 laps in and the Volvo was trying hard to get passed Rob Huff, but even with fully ballasted Honda, the Volvo was unable to get passed no matter what he tired. This allowed Huff’s team mate Michelisz to generate a gap at the front of the field. Further behind, Lopez made a move on Muller after a huge lock up at turn 1 from the French man as he tried to get passed Catsburg’s Lada.
Just after half distance Monteiro made the move he had to on Thed Bjork, a huge dive into turn 10 saw him move into third to create a Honda 1-2-3 on their home circuit. Bjork stated to fall back, falling into the clutches of Catsburg, Lopez and Muller. Lopez managed to force Catsburg out of the way, causing contact between the two cars.
At the front it would be the race Honda wanted, taking a 1-2-3 and some valuable points out of Lopez’s championship lead.
Race 2 saw Lopez and Muller pull away from the front with Monteiro trying to get into third place and take yet more points out of Lopez. The best fight was coming from Tarquini, Thompson and Catsburg over 10th place. The three traded paint and tapped each other for lap after lap, but the two kept it on the track with Tarquini eventually keeping the Lada in front.
The story of the race occurred in the last lap. Lopez slowed to allow Muller through, gifting him is first victory of 2016. Even finishing second, Lopez would finish the weekend with a 120-point advantage over Monteiro. Should the confirmation of the Thailand round being cancelled, it would give Lopez the World Championship. The Independants championship is still wide open, with 6 races left and a 20 point gap between Mehdi Bennani and Tom Chilton. Thanks to their results Sebastien Loeb racing have already sealed the 2016 teams Championship. Citroen have also almost sealed the Manufactures championship, needing just 2 more points to secure the title.
The next time we will see the World Touring cars in action will be in Shanghai on September 25th.