Audi’s Jean-Karl Vernay took a dominant victory in the opening World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) race on the streets of Wuhan, heading the CUPRA of Campos Racing’s Pepe Oriola and Leopard Lukoil team-mate Gordon Shedden.
Vernay led the race from lights-to-flag, getting a clean start and making an early break from Oriola. The Spaniard had no challenge for the Frenchman, but was equally able to settle into a relatively comfortable second, although he did come under some late-race pressure from Shedden in the final laps.
Securing his first-ever WTCR podium was Shedden, who had earlier got past Münnich Motorsport’s Yann Ehrlacher for the position on lap 12 after applying pressure throughout the early laps of the race, when the Honda driver got a strong start to jump Shedden and three other drivers on the opening lap.
Ehrlacher held on to fourth, making him the best-placed of the title protagonists going into the race, although he has now been jumped by fellow Frenchman Vernay in the standings.
Comtoyou Racing’s Frédéric Vervisch was fifth, holding off the Peugeot of Aurélien Comte in sixth, with the DG Sport driver having also made up several positions on the first lap.
Team Mulsanne’s Kevin Ceccon was seventh, giving the Alfa Romeo outfit a strong result to boost their morale after his team-mate Fabrizio Giovanardi was unceremoniously taken out of the race on lap four by Boutsen Ginion Racing’s Tom Coronel, who appeared to miss his braking point. The damage to the Giulietta was extensive, leaving it with a missing right-rear wheel and requiring a three-lap safety car intervention to retrieve the car.
Esteban Guerrieri brought his Münnich Motorsport Honda home in eighth, despite strong pressure from Comtoyou Racing’s Nathanaël Berthon, who was ninth. Berthon had earlier been taken out of fourth by team-mate Denis Dupont, who tagged his Audi into a slide at the fourth corner, but Berthon was able to continue and avoid an early accident, albeit half a dozen places down.
Berthon’s Comtoyou Racing team-mate Aurélien Panis completed the top ten, with Dupont himself in 11th after losing ground in the lap one incident.
None of the top four drivers in the championship took home any points from the race, with YMR’s Thed Björk being the best-placed of the Hyundai drivers in 13th, whilst team-mate Yvan Muller was 16th.
BRC Racing’s Norbert Michelisz only completed three laps in the race, having started from the back of the grid anyway due to an overnight engine change. Points leader Gabriele Tarquini was the last of the classified drivers in 18th, although he maintains his points advantage.
Qualifying for races two and three is scheduled for 09:00 local time (02:00 BST, 03:00 CEST) on Sunday.
|1||69||Jean-Karl VERNAY||Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team||Audi RS3 LMS||20||20 LAPS||1:24.305||1|
|2||74||Pepe ORIOLA||Team Oscaro by Campos Racing||CUPRA TCR||20||4.913||1:24.399||2|
|3||52||Gordon SHEDDEN||Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team||Audi RS3 LMS||20||5.513||1:24.510||5|
|4||68||Yann EHRLACHER||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR||20||9.613||1:24.654||7|
|5||22||Frédéric VERVISCH||Audi Sport Team Comtoyou||Audi RS3 LMS||20||10.070||1:24.563||6|
|6||7||Aurélien COMTE||DG Sport Compétition||Peugeot 308 TCR||20||11.102||1:24.746||9|
|7||31||Kevin CECCON||Team Mulsanne||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||20||11.531||1:24.754||8|
|8||86||Esteban GUERRIERI||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR||20||17.044||1:24.925||11|
|9||23||Nathanaël BERTHON||Comtoyou Racing||Audi RS3 LMS||20||17.556||1:24.599||3|
|10||21||Aurélien PANIS||Comtoyou Racing||Audi RS3 LMS||20||18.307||1:24.790||12|
|11||20||Denis DUPONT||Comtoyou Racing||Audi RS3 LMS||20||19.060||1:24.768||4|
|12||55||MA Qing Hua||Boutsen Ginion Racing||Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR||20||20.725||1:24.921||19|
|13||11||Thed BJÖRK||YMR||Hyundai i30 N TCR||20||21.980||1:25.399||15|
|14||25||Mehdi BENNANI||Sébastien Loeb Racing||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||20||23.449||1:24.784||14|
|15||12||Rob HUFF||Sébastien Loeb Racing||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||20||24.049||1:24.796||13|
|16||48||Yvan MULLER||YMR||Hyundai i30 N TCR||20||26.113||1:25.212||16|
|17||27||John FILIPPI||Team Oscaro by Campos Racing||CUPRA TCR||20||26.980||1:25.568||18|
|18||30||Gabriele TARQUINI||BRC Racing Team||Hyundai i30 N TCR||20||27.428||1:25.224||20|
|R||42||Timo SCHEIDER||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR||15||DNF||1:25.052||17|
|R||66||Zsolt Dávid SZABÓ||Zengő Motorsport||CUPRA TCR||14||DNF||1:25.525||23|
|R||8||Norbert NAGY||Zengő Motorsport||CUPRA TCR||13||DNF||1:25.246||22|
|R||9||Tom CORONEL||Boutsen Ginion Racing||Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR||4||DNF||1:25.980||21|
|R||88||Fabrizio GIOVANARDI||Team Mulsanne||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||3||DNF||1:25.745||24|
|R||70||Mat’o HOMOLA||DG Sport Compétition||Peugeot 308 TCR||3||DNF||1:25.861||10|
|R||5||Norbert MICHELISZ||BRC Racing Team||Hyundai i30 N TCR||3||DNF||N/A||25|