Norbert Michelisz amongst five drivers awarded grid penalty

by James Bowers

World Touring Car Cup championship points leader, Norbert Michelisz, will have an uphill task in the first race of the weekend at Suzuka, as he was one of five drivers to be awarded a three-place grid penalty.

The penalty will see the Hungarian drop from fourteenth to seventeenth on the starting grid, while his nearest rival in the points standings – Esteban Guerrieri – will be starting on the front row.

The penalty (as well as a 500 euro fine) has been distributed by the stewards due to safety concerns. In particular, the drivers were adjudged to have been travelling unnecessarily slowly while on track during the second free practice session.

As well as Michelisz, two other Hyundai drivers were deemed to have fallen foul of the same mistake. Gabriele Tarquini will consequently start the race from ninth, while Augusto Farfus will have to work hard to score points from way back in 26th.

Daniel Haglof was also penalised, however he had already qualified last anyway following an ill-fated trip into the turn five gravel trap.

The final driver to be punished is Nestor Girolami, who had been scheduled to start race one from third on the grid. Instead, the team has had to change the engine in his car, so the Argentine will be starting from the tail end of the field in 29th behind Haglof.

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