Mehdi Bennani takes maiden WTCC win as Yvan Muller retires
Mehdi Bennani took his maiden win in the FIA World Touring Car Championship at Shanghai. The Moroccan started from pole position and took a dominant lights to win flag, marking Honda’s first win this season.
Bennani came home ahead of stablemate Tiago Monteiro, making it a 1-2 for Honda, with José María López on the last podium spot and is now 93 points ahead of team-mate Yvan Muller, who retired after contact with fellow Citroën driver Sébastien Loeb.
The result means the Argentinian may be crowned champion as early as Suzuka in Race 1.
At the start, Bennani retained the lead as both Hondas overtook Chevrolet’s Hugo Valente, with Gabriele Tarquini ahead of Monteiro. Citroën drivers Sébastien Loeb and Yvan Muller started chasing the Campos Racing Chevrolet and during the fight Muller and Loeb made contact at the hairpin, with the title contender retiring due to the damage.
Loeb, still under investigation at the time of writing, was then fifth ahead of team-mate José María López, with Norbert Michelisz defending from Citroën’s Ma Qing Hua, with Tom Coronel and Dusan Borkovic closing the top ten for Chevrolet.
Bennani started opening a gap from Monteiro as López progressed up to third due to Tarquini retiring for a technical problem. Loeb won the fight with Michelisz for fourth, with Valente in sixth and Tom Chilton up to tenth after having started from the pit lane due to damage sustained in the first race.
Gianni Morbidelli was awarded a drive through penalty as Chilton overtook Borkovic and started putting pressure on Valente. The Brit managed to pass the Frenchman as the Campos Racing Chevrolet went wide at the hairpin, even having to defend hard from Borkovic for the last two laps.