Mehdi Bennani converts pole to Main Race win in Qatar

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Mehdi Bennani converted his first World Touring Car Championship pole position to his first Main Race win in Qatar, ahead of Cyan Racing’s Thed Björk and Citroën’s José María López.

Bennani held on to take his second win of the season ahead of the Volvo of Björk, who had threatened the Moroccan for the win half-way through the race but ultimately lacked the pace to pass.

In his final WTCC race, López completed the podium, having run in second position early on in the race. The triple champion lost the position on lap six, however, when Björk bravely passed into Turn 1, and he was unable to mount a challenge to retake the position.

Honda’s Norbert Michelisz took the chequered flag in fourth, but the Hungarian was unable to secure the much-coveted third place overall in the drivers’ championship. He missed out by just one point when team-mate Tiago Monteiro got by Yvan Muller to take fifth on the last lap.

In his last-ever WTCC race, Muller lacked the pace to challenge for a podium. Instead the WTCC’s most successful driver found himself in fourth for much of the race, before a last-lap lunge from Monteiro dropped him to sixth.

LADA’s race one winner Gabriele Tarquini took seventh, after battling hard with the Honda of Monteiro for the position ahead during the mid-part of the race.

Rob Huff was eighth, and as a result lost out on fifth overall in the championship to Bennani, ahead of ROAL Motorsport’s Tom Coronel in ninth, who finished the season with a points finish.

Münnich Motorsport’s James Thompson again completed the top ten after a solid run in his Chevrolet.

There was once again misfortune for LADA’s Hugo Valente, who collided with team-mate Nicky Catsburg on the opening lap at Turn 4. After both drivers skittered through the gravel they both had punctures, with Valente retiring from the race with front-left damage as well.

Catsburg re-joined the race after receiving a new tyre, but he was too far down the order to catch up and the Dutchman finished in 14th position, although he did post the fastest lap of the race to give a hint as to his potential.

The race once again necessitated a two-lap safety car period after the first lap, although this time a red flag stoppage was not needed. The neutralisation came when Sébastien Loeb Racing’s Tom Chilton made contact with the Volvo of Robert Dahlgren on the opening lap, leaving the Swede stranded on the circuit and both drivers out of the race.

Race result

POS NO CL DRIVER NAT ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME/GAP BEST GD
1 25 T Mehdi BENNANI Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée WTCC 15 15 LAPS 2:02.698 1
2 62 Thed BJÖRK Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo S60 WTCC 15 1.176 2:02.908 2
3 37 José María LÓPEZ Citroën Total WTCC Citroën C-Elysée WTCC 15 4.815 2:03.259 3
4 5 Norbert MICHELISZ Honda Racing Team JAS Honda Civic WTCC 15 10.575 2:03.658 5
5 18 Tiago MONTEIRO Honda Racing Team JAS Honda Civic WTCC 15 11.827 2:03.201 7
6 68 Yvan MULLER Citroën Total WTCC Citroën C-Elysée WTCC 15 12.390 2:03.489 4
7 2 Gabriele TARQUINI LADA Sport Rosneft LADA Vesta WTCC 15 14.994 2:03.488 9
8 12 Rob HUFF Honda Racing Team JAS Honda Civic WTCC 15 17.037 2:03.739 6
9 9 T Tom CORONEL ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 15 18.379 2:04.044 13
10 15 T James THOMPSON ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 15 20.819 2:04.107 14
11 55 T Ferenc FICZA Zengő Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC 15 21.758 2:04.216 16
12 11 T Grégoire DEMOUSTIER Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée WTCC 15 31.109 2:04.500 18
13 27 T John FILIPPI Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 15 38.393 2:05.166 15
14 10 Nicky CATSBURG LADA Sport Rosneft LADA Vesta WTCC 15 1:16.469 2:02.550 11
15 99 T Dániel NAGY Zengő Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC 14 1 Lp. 2:04.407 17
16 3 T Tom CHILTON Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée WTCC 8 7 Lp. 2:03.492 10
R 63 Robert DAHLGREN Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo S60 WTCC 0 N/A 8
R 7 Hugo VALENTE LADA Sport Rosneft LADA Vesta WTCC 0 N/A 12

Complete race results