Zengo Motorsport Cupra driver Azcona engaged in a thrilling wet-weather battle with team-mate Rob Huff and the Comtoyou Audis of Gilles Magnus and Frederic Vervisch, the latter needing victory to keep his slender title chances alive in the partially reversed-grid opener.
But Jean-Karl Vernay made a demon start from the second row to split early leader Magnus and Vervisch, as Esteban Guerrieri's own title challenge ended in a big lap-one crash when he ran wide at the long Turn 3 and smacked into a barrier.
Following a safety car intervention, racing resumed on lap four when Vernay passed Magnus for the lead with a run on the inside of Turn 3 – and Azcona and Huff triggered a fraught and thrilling race.
Huff's day ended in a door-to-door collision with Vervisch, as Azcona worked his way up to second in the closing stages, then pulled a great move on the brakes into Turn 2 to pass Vernay for victory on the last lap. Vervisch finished third, ahead of Magnus with a third Comtoyou Audi of Nathanael Berthon in fifth.
But it wasn't enough to stop Ehrlacher calmly securing his second WTCR after a race in which he kept out of trouble to finish where he started in sixth.
"This feels so good," said the 25-year-old on the radio after taking the chequered flag. "We are world champions! Twice! Yes! Come one!"
Race two will follow this afternoon, with fastest qualifier Yvan Muller starting from pole position.
|6||68||Yann Ehrlacher||Lynk & Co||6.003|
|8||100||Yvan Muller||Lynk & Co||8.316|
|9||12||Santiago Urrutia||Lynk & Co||9.961|
|10||11||Thed Björk||Lynk & Co||13.554|
|79||Rob Huff||CUPRA||2 Laps|
Yann Ehrlacher, Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR
Photo by: WTCR
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