Tom Chilton’s charge for second in this year’s WTCC was given a helping hand thanks to a last minute pass on team-mate Yvan Muller at the Shanghai International Circuit, in a race which was shortened due to damp and ‘smoggy’ conditions
The race was reduced to ten green flag laps due to the tricky conditions at the circuit, with the race starting behind the safety car.
At the start, Thed Björk’s Volvo pulled into the pits with a battery issue, while the wet-shod Chevrolets of Pepe Oriola and Rickard Rydell surged forward, with Oriola passing the two RML Chevrolets for the lead and Rydell passing the two bamboo-engineering cars of James Nash and Alex MacDowall for fourth.
Rob Huff, now confirmed as a Lada driver next year, closed in on the two bamboo cars in the early stages as well, eventually finishing in sixth position and the top placed of the SEATs for Münnich Motorsport.
Oriola’s lead came to an end on lap seven, as Yvan Muller was able to pass the Spaniard down the inside at Turn 14 as the wet tyres began to falter, with Tom Chilton moving into second at the start of lap eight.
On the final lap, Chilton made a run on his team-mate which was just lightly defended by Muller, which saw Chilton take the chequered flag first by a margin of just one-hundredth of a second.
The two bamboo cars were also able to get ahead of the 18-year-old Oriola on the final lap, dropping the Spaniard to fifth while Rydell fell all the way down to 14th position, both struggling on their wet tyres.
James Thompson finished eighth for Lada after a strong race, while Tom Boardman put on a valiant charge in the Special Tuning Racing SEAT to come from 19th to ninth in the race.
Tom Chilton now closes to within seven points of Gabriele Tarquini’s Honda for second in the drivers’ standings, but the Italian will start from second on the grid for race two with Chilton starting ninth thanks to the reverse grid.
James Nash took the win in the Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy classification and extends his lead over Alex MacDowall, his only true rival due to the withdrawal of Michel Nykjaer, to 35 points with 54 points still remaining.
Yukinori Taniguchi extends his lead in the Eurosport Asia Trophy standings thanks to winning the classification, finishing 21st overall.
Tiago Monteiro starts from pole for race due which is due to get underway shortly.