Tom Chilton takes dominant win in Beijing
Tom Chilton dominated the first race at Beijing. The Brit retained the lead at the start in his Chevrolet RML Cruze and never lost it throughout the race, while Citroën monopolised the rest of the podium, with Yvan Muller second ahead of José María López.
At the start Chilton defended his lead from a fast starting Yvan Muller and Gabriele Tarquini’s Honda Civic, with the Frenchman never able to mount a serious challenge to the race leader.
The safety car was deployed shortly after the start due to a incident between René Münnich and Dušan Borković. The removal of the two cars took a long time and the race was restarted on lap 11.
As Sébastien Loeb went wide with his Citroën, Norbert Michelisz was able to squeeze past in his Civic for sixth. Ma Qing Hua overtook Rob Huff’s Lada Granta for ninth and immediately started chasing the other Lada of James Thompson, starting a fierce battle.
Shortly after that Tiago Monteiro retired his Honda Civic into the pits with suspension damage, with Tom Coronel being caught by surprise by the slow car and saw his Chevrolet passed by Campos Racing’s Hugo Valente and Lada’s Mikhail Kozlovskiy.
After a long fight, Ma was able to get past James Thompson, but the local hero had to retire his Citroën C-Elysée later on in the race. On lap 23 both Gabriele Tarquini and Tom Coronel stopped in the pits, with the Italian briefly rejoining after changing his punctured tyre, before withdrawing from the race.
Just a lap before the end of the race Hugo Valente’s Chevrolet slowed down significantly after damage to the front right of his car took its toll on the front right tyre, which led to the Frenchman’s retirement.
The order did not change further, with Chilton taking his first win of the season for ROAL Motorsport ahead of Citroën title rivals Yvan Muller and José María López. Gianni Morbidelli was a very strong fourth in his Chevrolet Cruze, just ahead of Sébastien Loeb.
Norbert Michelisz finished sixth ahead of Lada duo Thompson and Huff, with Proteam Racing’s Mehdi Bennani ninth and the TC2T class winner Franz Engstler the only remaining finishers.
López’s advantage over team-mate Yvan Muller in the championship is now down to 56 points, with Loeb a further 48 points adrift.
The second race follows imminently with Rob Huff starting on pole for Lada ahead of Tom Coronel’s ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet.