A stunning first season has seen fledgling carmaker Lynk & Co secure the World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) at the Sepang finale, together with its race partner and former Volvo motorsports arm Cyan Racing. The team managed to win the teams’ championship with its new 03 TCR racer despite a difficult race in which the title bids for both its drivers fizzled out.

Coming into the series’ first event to cross into the night, Cyan Racing held a commanding 72-point lead over its closest rival BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse. Meanwhile, its drivers Yvan Muller and Thed Björk were locked in a tight battle with BRC’s championship leader Norbert Michelisz, along with ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport’s Esteban Guerrieri.

The changing conditions made for plenty of action, and Michelisz took full advantage of his pole position by winning Race 1 in dominant fashion in his i30 N TCR. This enabled him to extend his lead in the standings, and while Guerrieri and Muller kept their title hopes alive by fighting back to fourth and sixth respectively, Björk finished 27th after gambling on a switch to slick tyres mid-race, dropping him out of contention.

But it was in Race 2 where the gloves really came off. Guerrieri shot up from ninth to first within the first lap, whilst further back, Muller managed to climb to fifth – right before another BRC driver Nicky Catsburg skidded into him. The crash, which caused Catsburg’s car to catch fire, also brought out the red flag.

Michelisz ended up 17th in the ensuing melee, but upon restart the Hungarian managed to claw his way back to eighth to limit the damage as Guerrieri cruised to victory in his Honda Civic Type R TCR; Muller, on the other hand, dropped down to sixth and ended his own title bid. Back at the top, the gap between Michelisz and Guerrieri had whittled down to just 10 points.

That set up an enticing fight for the trophy, with the two occupying the front row on Race 3. At the start, Guerrieri overhauled the Hyundai, as did PWR Racing’s Mikel Azcona and SLR Volkswagen’s Johan Kristofferson. In the ensuing four-way battle, Azcona punted Guerrieri into the grass, causing a suspected radiator blockage on the Civic – and with that, a loss of power.

Unable to defend his lead, Guerrieri dropped all the way down to 22nd (despite setting the fastest lap once the blockage had cleared), so even though Michelisz slipped back himself, his fifth place was still more than enough to secure his place as “King of WTCR”.

Up in front, Kristofferson capped off a dramatic race with a sensational victory from 22nd on the grid, enabling Volkswagen to sign off its factory involvement in style. Further back, Björk’s ninth place and Muller’s 11th allowed Cyan Racing to seal the team’s title, said to be the first for a Chinese brand on an international stage.

“This has been one of the toughest race weekends the team has ever experienced. Everyone really pulled together when we needed it the most. I am proud of all in the team that we for the third year in succession are the champions of the world,” said Cyan Racing team principal Fredrik Wahlén.