The ever-smiling Tom Coronel took his and ROAL Motorsport second victory of the 2013 FIA WTCC season in race two at Suzuka that followed the title-deciding action earlier in the first race of the day.
It was Coronel's third victory on Japanese soil in the series in the country he very much sees as his second home after the several years that he spent racing successfully in Japanese GT and various Formula championship in his younger days.
Coronel had followed race two pole sitter Mehdi Bennani for the majority of the race, but finally the BMW driver finally found a way past the Moroccan at turn one after several failed attempts. The eventual pressure and differing setups finally paid off and once he got in front Coronel was on the way to an easy victory.
Bennani held on to second and claimed top independent with his third runners-up spot of the year, as the two somewhat-ageing BMW 320 TC cars had proved themselves streets ahead of the two Castrol JAS Hondas that followed on behind in third and fourth. The final podium spot eventually went to Tiago Monteiro after an easy run to line, while 2009 champion Gabriele Tarquini was perfectly up to the straightforward task of keeping a pair of Chevrolets behind him throughout the entire race.
The first of those Chevrolets was bamboo Engineering's James Nash running to another fifth place overall, which also meant another second in the Yokohama trophy class; and behind him came Tom Chilton who hadn't been able to build on his fourth place result in race 1.
While the two Brits were busy keeping Tarquini honest to the finish, Charles Ng wasn't far behind them as he ran in to the flag in seventh spot, securing the Liqui Moly Engstler Sports team's best finish of the year and Ng's first top ten finish after he managed to stave of the attentions of Rob Huff who took eighth in his now-ancient SEAT Leon.
A battle royale ensued behind, with James Thompson running in ninth for much of the race but then pushed out wide by Marc Basseng coming into the final lap of the race. Basseng was given a 30 second time penalty for his troubles, which meant that Stefano D'Aste took ninth with Darryl O'Young moving into the last points on offer in tenth. Thompson recovered for 11th, but it was too little too late for the two-time British champion.
The race 2 winner in the Eurosport Asia Trophy category this time was Masaki Kano, but the overall category leader after the first of three Asia outings for WTCC is Wiechers Sport's Yukinori Taniguchi thanks to his finishing second in the Trophy stakes in both of Sunday's events. Earlier victor Takuya Izawa finished the second race sixth in class in what is a one off for the Japanese factory Honda racer.
After the full-house of classified finishers in race 1 there was a marked drop for race 2 which saw only 22 cars last the distance. Retirements included race one winner and newly-crowned 2013 champion Yvan Muller who was taken out when Norbert Michelisz veering into him at the standing start, putting Muller into the wall on the front straight and Michelisz in the pits with a completely wrecked front left.
Pepe Oriola continued his dreadful form of late and also retired, along with Tom Boardman and several Asian replacement and wildcard drivers who all too graphically demonstrated the gruelling demands of the 1.4-mile Suzuka East circuit on car and driver.
by Dexter Fielding