Mehdi Bennani says that he had to drive ‘at 110 percent’ to keep the Peugeot of Aurélien Comte behind him in the second World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) race in Wuhan, where he took his Volkswagen to victory.
Bennani scored his first win of the season in the reverse-grid contest, holding off a late charge from DG Sport Compétition’s Comte to claim victory.
But the Moroccan racer had to do so with a car which carried 20 kg of compensation weight – the second highest of any model – and in the second heaviest car on the grid.
“It was very tough from the beginning of the weekend,” said Bennani. “The car was heavy on weight after my podium in Ningbo and I had to drive at 110 per cent because I knew I would be struggling with tyres from lap 12 or 13. And this is what happened.
“It’s a nice victory because so much has happened since my crash at Vila Real. This win is dedicated to the King of Morocco, who has done so much to make me a professional driver.”
Bennani briefly lost the lead at the third from last corner on the final lap, but he felt confident he could retake the position at the penultimate corner, which he duly did when Comte out-braked himself.
“I knew [Comte] was much lighter, by something like 60 kg. He closed too much in the final three laps, but when he overtook me I knew it would be nearly impossible for him to stop the car at the hairpin on that line. I’m very happy.”
Bennani is now 13th in the drivers’ standings with 121 points, 41 adrift of Sébastien Loeb Racing team-mate Rob Huff.