Team Mulsanne and Romeo Ferraris have lived a dream weekend at Suzuka: in the ninth round of the 2018 FIA WTCR series they conquered an historic first win for the Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR built at Opera. Crowning the relentless development work by the Italian outfit, Kevin Ceccon brilliantly won Race 1, putting the Alfa Romeo brand on top of the podium twelve years after its last success.
Ceccon, who had never raced on the prestigious Japanese circuit, made his point from scratch, taking pole position for Race 1. Two laps only into the race, he took the lead, perfectly managing his advantage despite two safety-car periods that followed. Once he took the chequered flag, celebration broke in the Team Mulsanne pits.
Kevin and the team continued rewriting the stats by taking also the pole in Q2, thanks to a lap time of 2’10″742, after reaching again the final segment of the qualifying session, already a sensational achievement. He finished sixth in Race 2, the one starting with the inverted grid, after beating again Aurélien Comte. Ceccon could even double his number of wins in Race 3: after dropping to P4 in the initial phases, he took the lead in lap 6, but was sanctioned with a 5-second penalty for incorrect positioning on the grid. Despite crossing the finishing line as first, he was demoted to third, still retaining though another podium finish and confirming the potential expressed in the World Touring Car Cup since his debut in the Slovakia round.
The other Alfa Romeo was this time entrusted to Luigi Ferrara, fresh vice-champion of the TCR Italy with the Giulietta thanks to five race wins and one pole position. The Bari-born driver, at his debut in the World Touring Car Cup, showed constant progress throughout a challenging weekend, begun with an engine issue in practice that was solved by the engineers of Romeo Ferraris and Team Mulsanne. Despite having also to adapt to the Yokohama tires, Gigi took P14 in Race-1, but had to retire in Race-2 following a contact while involved in fierce battling, with the long repairs needed compromising his third race.
Ferrara will have another chance in the next round, on the legendary urban track of Macau next 17-18 November, which will mark the closing of the 2018 edition of the WTCR. Un the Gaia track, Ceccon will try to duplicate the fantastic success obtained in Japan for him and the entire Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR by Romeo Ferraris project.
Michela Cerruti, Operations Manager
“I have no words for describing the emotions that we have lived here at Suzuka. To win in the World TCR series rewards us of all the efforts made in these years, after embarking in such a demanding and ambitious project. Today, our Alfa Romeo Giulietta is in a position of fighting at the top of all TCR series, as already proved at national level. I want to thank our whole staff, who has always worked with great passion and professionalism, and in particular Aldo Cerruti for his unwavering faith on the project and Kevin for making the utmost since his debut in the WTCR”.
“At Suzuka I have probably taken the most important success in my career. Michela Cerruti’s call during the summer has allowed me to be back on track, and on a global stage, at a moment where I was fearing that my racing career was coming to an end. I immediately felt at ease with the Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR and round after round, performances have improved significantly. Here in Japan, everything has worked to perfection, it is just a pity that the penalty in Race-3 deprived us of a second success, and I apologize to everybody for my mistake”.
“To debut in the World TCR has been an incredible experience and knowing well the car with which I have been a runner-up in the Italian series has clearly helped me adapting quicker. I was aiming at a good result in Race-2, where I was fighting well in the middle of the group, but unfortunately a contact ruined everything for the rest of the weekend. Still, I am happy with the pace shown and hope to continue at this level at Macau, another round with tremendous prestige”.