Yvan Muller was relieved to score victory in the opening FIA World Touring Car Cup race at the Ningbo Speedpark in China, as the race is a home round for Chinese car manufacturer Lynk & Co.
Muller led the race from lights-to-flag, despite a stern challenge from the Alfa Romeo of Ma Qing Hua on the opening lap.
In the end the Frenchman recorded his first win of the year by a margin of just under three tenths of a second from the Chinese driver, giving the brand an important home win.
Muller believed before the race that taking a win would be hard, as the Lynk & Co 03 is amongst the heaviest cars on the grid, with 40 kg of Balance of Performance [BoP] compensation weight.
“It was very intense because I knew at the end of the race it would be complicated with our car because our car is heavy, so we are harder on the tyres,” said Muller. “I was looking after the tyres all the way through.
“But at one point during the race I asked my engineer how many laps were left and he told me six. I though ‘oh shit, that will be long’!
“And it was long, very long, even until the end and the last sector, but I was defending. Anything could happen.”
The 50-year-old stressed the importance of winning at Geely-owned Lynk & Co’s home circuit, with the Ningbo circuit also owned by Geely.
“If there was one race to win this year it would have been this one because we are in China, driving a Chinese car and Geely Group are ten minutes away from here. So, this was the race to win.”
Muller has moved up to fifth overall in the drivers’ championship standings with the win, taking his tally to 180 points – 51 behind series leader Esteban Guerrieri.