Yvan Muller continued his YMR team’s success run in China with victory in the second World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) race in Ningbo, easing to victory ahead of Sébastien Loeb Racing’s Mehdi Bennani.
Muller started the reverse-grid race from second on the grid and after a good start to jump into the lead was never headed in the 13-lap race, opening up a comfortable margin over the chasing Bennani, who had started from the pole position.
“It was a great race – I’m pleased with my result, of course,” said Muller. “Two victories from two races and two pole positions from two qualifying sessions for my team – I couldn’t expect more than that. Now we are on pole with Thed for the third race, so I just hope things carry on like that.”
The main drama in the race came in the battle for the final podium position, with Münnich Motorsport’s Yann Ehrlacher initially holding the position, having started the race in third.
However, Frédéric Vervisch’s Audi was increasingly looking for a way past the Frenchman later in the race, and after an initial attempt on lap ten, where the Belgian went in too hot, he made another attempt two laps later.
Ehrlacher appeared to turn in on Vervisch at Turn 3, dropping the former down to tenth position, whilst Vervisch continued in seventh.
The Frenchman, who had been joint fourth in the standings, then saw his race come to a premature end on the final lap, when fellow Honda racer Ma Qing Hua clattered his Boutsen Ginion Racing run Civic into Ehrlacher’s car at the Turn 9 hairpin, damaging his left-rear suspension.
The shenanigans ahead helped Ehrlacher’s team-mate, Esteban Guerrieri, to claim the final podium position, elevating the Argentine to sixth overall in the championship standings.
Denis Dupont was the leading Audi driver in fourth, having lost out to Guerrieri on the eighth lap after a close battle over several corners, ahead of the second SLR Volkswagen of Rob Huff in fifth.
Vervisch crossed the finish line in sixth after his earlier incident, gaining one position on the final lap when YMR’s Thed Björk slipped from fifth down to seventh.
Nathanaël Berthon brought his Comtoyou Racing Audi home in eighth, whilst the top ten was completed by BRC Racing’s Norbert Michelisz and Campos Racing’s Pepe Oriola, the latter gaining one point due to the demise of Ehrlacher.
Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil driver Jean-Karl Vernay endured his fourth consecutive retirement after being hit by the Peugeot of Aurélien Comte on the opening lap, forcing the Audi driver to limp to the pits for repairs.
BRC Racing’s Gabriele Tarquini was also involved in scuffles on the first lap, causing damage to the front of his Hyundai and forcing the Italian to pit. A non-score for Tarquini means he loses the lead in the points to Muller, who has a 14-point advantage after his victory.
Race three follows at 15:40 local time (08:40 BST, 09:40 CEST).
|1||48||Yvan MULLER||YMR||Hyundai i30 N TCR||13||24:32.355||1:52.356||2|
|2||25||Mehdi BENNANI||Sébastien Loeb Racing||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||13||2.620||1:52.757||1|
|3||86||Esteban GUERRIERI||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR||13||8.569||1:52.537||8|
|4||20||Denis DUPONT||Comtoyou Racing||Audi RS3 LMS||13||9.965||1:52.844||5|
|5||12||Rob HUFF||Sébastien Loeb Racing||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||13||12.526||1:52.933||6|
|6||22||Frédéric VERVISCH||Audi Sport Team Comtoyou||Audi RS3 LMS||13||12.629||1:52.703||4|
|7||11||Thed BJÖRK||YMR||Hyundai i30 N TCR||13||12.796||1:52.682||10|
|8||23||Nathanaël BERTHON||Comtoyou Racing||Audi RS3 LMS||13||12.961||1:53.042||11|
|9||5||Norbert MICHELISZ||BRC Racing Team||Hyundai i30 N TCR||13||13.257||1:52.923||9|
|10||74||Pepe ORIOLA||Team Oscaro by Campos Racing||CUPRA TCR||13||15.337||1:53.102||15|
|11||21||Aurélien PANIS||Comtoyou Racing||Audi RS3 LMS||13||18.019||1:53.391||16|
|12||31||Kevin CECCON||Team Mulsanne||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||13||22.473||1:53.588||19|
|13||88||Fabrizio GIOVANARDI||Team Mulsanne||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||13||27.413||1:54.122||25|
|14||55||MA Qing Hua||Boutsen Ginion Racing||Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR||13||31.012||1:53.113||12|
|15||52||Gordon SHEDDEN||Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team||Audi RS3 LMS||13||31.601||1:54.100||22|
|16||9||Tom CORONEL||Boutsen Ginion Racing||Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR||13||32.475||1:54.111||23|
|17||70||Mat’o HOMOLA||DG Sport Compétition||Peugeot 308 TCR||13||33.618||1:54.286||24|
|18||68||Yann EHRLACHER||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR||12||+ 1 LAP||1:52.713||3|
|19||42||Timo SCHEIDER||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR||12||+ 1 LAP||1:52.574||18|
|20||8||Norbert NAGY||Zengő Motorsport||CUPRA TCR||10||+ 3 LAPS||1:54.053||20|
|R||7||Aurélien COMTE||DG Sport Compétition||Peugeot 308 TCR||9||DNF||1:53.543||14|
|R||27||John FILIPPI||Team Oscaro by Campos Racing||CUPRA TCR||8||DNF||1:54.352||21|
|R||69||Jean-Karl VERNAY||Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team||Audi RS3 LMS||3||DNF||10:11.723||13|
|R||30||Gabriele TARQUINI||BRC Racing Team||Hyundai i30 N TCR||3||DNF||14:18.762||7|
|R||66||Zsolt Dávid SZABÓ||Zengő Motorsport||CUPRA TCR||3||DNF||14:16.976||17|