Thed Björk claimed the first-ever World Touring Car Championship win for Polestar and Volvo in the Opening Race in Shanghai, despite crossing the finish line with broken suspension after a last lap pass.
Honda’s Norbert Michelisz had taken the lead at the start of the race, with pole sitter John Filippi getting a poor start and rapidly dropping down to fifth.
Michelisz was then able to open up around a one-second lead for the first half of the race, building a gap over then second-placed Tom Chilton and Gabriele Tarquini.
A brief two-lap safety car period was required on lap four, when Campos Racing’s Filippi was caught in a sandwich at Turn One, with the Volvo of Fredrik Ekblom pushing Filippi into the Citroën of José María López. Whilst the two works’ cars escaped, Filippi hit the side of the Citroën and destroyed the front-left wheel on his car.
When the race resumed, Sébastien Loeb Racing’s Chilton was forced to defend second heavily from LADA’s Tarquini and Polestar’s Björk.
Pivotal contact came on lap nine, when Tarquini hit the side of Chilton’s Citroën on the exit of the hairpin, causing race-ending damage to both cars and promoting the Volvo of Björk into second.
Thereafter the Swede was able to eat into Michelisz’s two-second lead, and with four laps to go he was all over the back of the Honda driver.
The crucial moment came on the final lap, when Björk blasted past Michelisz on the back straight, only for contact as he consolidated his position at the penultimate turn to break the left-rear suspension on his car.
Nevertheless, Björk was able to limp across the line in first, ahead of Michelisz and Citroën’s Yvan Muller, who had stayed out of trouble in third.
Three-time champion López took the flag in fourth in his battered C-Elysée, ahead of the leading LADA of Nicky Catsburg in fifth. The Dutchman had actually been in fourth heading onto the final lap, but unluckily caught a piece of debris when Björk passed for the lead, with a fragment of Honda bumper lodging in the front of his car and blocking the airflow.
Hugo Valente was the next LADA driver in sixth, ahead of the leading Chevrolet of ROAL Motorsport’s Tom Coronel in seventh.
Ekblom took eighth in his battle-scarred Volvo, whilst Honda duo Rob Huff and Tiago Monteiro completed the top ten after swapping positions on lap 13.
Sébastien Loeb Racing’s Mehdi Bennani just missed out on the points in 11th, but with Chilton failing to score in the Independents Trophy, and the Moroccan finishing second in class, it effectively gives him an insurmountable lead for the trophy.
The Main Race takes place at 15:50 local time (08:50 BST, 09:50 CEST).
|1||62||Thed BJÖRK||Polestar Cyan Racing||Volvo S60 WTCC||16||31:58.340||1:52.578||6|
|2||5||Norbert MICHELISZ||Honda Racing Team JAS||Honda Civic WTCC||16||0.361||1:53.062||2|
|3||68||Yvan MULLER||Citroën Total WTCC||Citroën C-Elysée WTCC||16||0.528||1:53.334||8|
|4||37||José María LÓPEZ||Citroën Total WTCC||Citroën C-Elysée WTCC||16||2.215||1:53.323||10|
|5||10||Nicky CATSBURG||LADA Sport Rosneft||LADA Vesta WTCC||16||2.315||1:53.640||9|
|6||7||Hugo VALENTE||LADA Sport Rosneft||LADA Vesta WTCC||16||6.290||1:53.764||13|
|7||9||T||Tom CORONEL||ROAL Motorsport||Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1||16||6.911||1:53.480||11|
|8||61||Fredrik EKBLOM||Polestar Cyan Racing||Volvo S60 WTCC||16||12.151||1:54.928||4|
|9||12||Rob HUFF||Honda Racing Team JAS||Honda Civic WTCC||16||13.494||1:54.318||15|
|10||18||Tiago MONTEIRO||Honda Racing Team JAS||Honda Civic WTCC||16||16.586||1:53.719||14|
|11||25||T||Mehdi BENNANI||Sébastien Loeb Racing||Citroën C-Elysée WTCC||16||17.078||1:53.716||7|
|12||15||T||James THOMPSON||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1||16||18.405||1:53.971||12|
|13||11||T||Grégoire DEMOUSTIER||Sébastien Loeb Racing||Citroën C-Elysée WTCC||16||26.284||1:55.189||16|
|14||55||T||Ferenc FICZA||Zengő Motorsport||Honda Civic WTCC||16||26.583||1:54.883||17|
|15||99||T||Dániel NAGY||Zengő Motorsport||Honda Civic WTCC||16||32.857||1:55.483||18|
|16||2||Gabriele TARQUINI||LADA Sport Rosneft||LADA Vesta WTCC||11||5 Lp.||1:53.343||5|
|R||3||T||Tom CHILTON||Sébastien Loeb Racing||Citroën C-Elysée WTCC||9||7 Lp.||1:53.340||3|
|R||27||T||John FILIPPI||Campos Racing||Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1||2||14 Lp.||1:55.729||1|