Cyan Racing’s Yvan Muller scored his first FIA World Touring Car Cup race victory of the 2019 season in race one at Ningbo, China, after keeping Team Mulsanne’s Ma Qing Hua at bay, as PWR Racing’s Mikel Azcona rounded out the podium.
The win at round 19 is the longest Muller has gone into a international touring car season before taking a win.
Away from the line and Muller held onto his lead despite contact with Ma through the opening through turns. Azcona was unable to capitalise but did not sacrifice his position in third.
By lap three it was clear that Ma held a pace advantage over the race leader, however it would be difficult to pass as Muller began to pick up the pace.
With three laps to go the leading gap had not extended over eight tenths of a second, but Ma was unable to find a part of the track where his advantage was significant.
Whilst the top two positions were all but confirmed, the battle for the last step on the podium was heating up as Azcona found himself under threat from championship contender BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse’s Norbert Michelisz.
The Hungarian was able to get a better drive out of the Turn 10 hairpin, but Azcona blocked to the inside causing contact but neither driver would lose a position.
Muller held on to the flag to take his first win of the season, and an important win for Lynk & Co. at their home round.
Ma picked up his third podium of the season, and rookie Azcona looks to be carrying the form that saw him take his maiden victory in race two at Villa Real.
Michelisz crossed the line fourth ahead of BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team’s Nick Catsburg less than a second back.
Aurélien Panis took the checkered flag in sixth after the Comtoyou Team DHL Cupra racing driver had been engaged in a race long battle with Catsburg.
The second BRC Hyundai LUKOIL Racing Team driver of Augusto Farfus took seventh place, despite the Brazilian making up spots in the early laps he lacked the pace to latch on to the leading group.
SLR Volkswagen’s Johan Kristoffersson dropped back from his fifth place on the grid to finish in eighth, ahead of Comtoyou Team Audi Sport’s Niels Langeveld in ninth.
Rob Huff rounded out the top ten for SLR VW Motorsport, climbing from 18th on the grid.
The race had significant championship ramifications as points leader ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport’s Esteban Guerrieri was forced to start from the pitlane after an in-car fire extinguisher was deployed on the grid. The Argentinian’s 24 point advantage over closest rival Michelisz was halved by the Hungarian finishing in fourth place.
|1||100||Yvan MULLER||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||13||24:41.861||1:53.176||1|
|2||55||Ma QING HUA||Team Mulsanne||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||13||0.263||1:53.028||2|
|3||96||Mikel AZCONA||PWR Racing||CUPRA TCR||13||2.444||1:52.991||3|
|4||5||Norbert MICHELISZ||BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse||Hyundai i30 N TCR||13||2.843||1:53.402||4|
|5||88||Nicky CATSBURG||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team||Hyundai i30 N TCR||13||3.092||1:53.459||6|
|6||21||Aurélien PANIS||Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing||CUPRA TCR||13||3.603||1:52.965||7|
|7||8||Augusto FARFUS||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team||Hyundai i30 N TCR||13||9.028||1:53.651||8|
|8||14||Johan KRISTOFFERSSON||SLR Volkswagen||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||13||11.440||1:53.958||5|
|9||10||Niels LANGEVELD||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||13||12.526||1:54.006||10|
|10||12||Rob HUFF||SLR VW Motorsport||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||13||13.903||1:54.206||16|
|11||22||Frédéric VERVISCH||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||13||15.440||1:54.274||14|
|12||11||Thed BJÖRK||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||13||18.021||1:54.002||13|
|13||68||Yann EHRLACHER||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||13||18.602||1:54.055||15|
|14||111||Andy PRIAULX||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||13||19.602||1:54.252||11|
|15||29||Néstor GIROLAMI||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type R TCR||13||20.069||1:54.081||17|
|16||69||Jean-Karl VERNAY||Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||13||20.631||1:54.194||21|
|17||31||Kevin CECCON||Team Mulsanne||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||13||21.118||1:53.301||26|
|18||33||Benjamin LEUCHTER||SLR Volkswagen||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||13||21.515||1:53.487||19|
|19||86||Esteban GUERRIERI||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type R TCR||13||23.224||1:53.947||12|
|20||25||Mehdi BENNANI||SLR VW Motorsport||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||13||26.212||1:54.443||18|
|21||18||Tiago MONTEIRO||KCMG||Honda Civic Type R TCR||13||26.576||1:54.401||20|
|22||52||Gordon SHEDDEN||Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||13||28.614||1:54.622||25|
|23||9||Attila TASSI||KCMG||Honda Civic Type R TCR||13||29.585||1:54.800||23|
|24||50||Tom CORONEL||Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing||CUPRA TCR||13||39.538||1:54.840||24|
|R||1||Gabriele TARQUINI||BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse||Hyundai i30 N TCR||9||DNF||1:54.339||22|
|R||37||Daniel HAGLÖF||PWR Racing||CUPRA TCR||8||DNF||1:54.300||9|