Yvan Muller takes fifth win of the year as López moves closer to the title

Yvan Muller completed the celebrations for Citroën Racing in Shanghai, winning the second race of the day while Honda’s Gabriele Tarquini and reigning champion José María López completed the podium after an intense battle.

The Lada and Honda mechanics made the most of the repair time and during the first race to get Rob Huff’s Vesta and Gabriele Tarquini’s Civic back on the grid after their damage in Race 1.

At the green light, Campos Chevrolet driver Hugo Valente got off the line well from pole position, but Gabriele Tarquini’s start was even better, getting alongside the Frenchman and taking the lead into Turn 1. Valente managed to get back ahead in Turn 2, but was then hit by the Italian. The Campos Racing driver slid and spun with broken left-rear suspension, which forced him to retire.

Gabriele Tarquini started to build a lead, with the Citroëns taking advantage of the opening incidents to climb up in the classification. Yvan Muller was now up to second place, followed by José María López and Sébastien Loeb.

Rob Huff was running in fifth position with the repaired Vesta WTCC, and keeping a good pace, while team-mate Nicky Catsburg headed back into the pits to retire at the end of the first lap.

Tarquini at one point had built up a 2.5-second lead, but at half distance, Muller started gaining on the Honda driver, passing him for the lead on lap nine. The Frenchman then began to pull away, leaving Tarquini to defend second against his Citroën team-mate José María López.

Citroën Racing reported a problem in one of Sébastien Loeb’s tyres with three laps to go. Stefano D’Aste, who was running in eighth position and second in the Yokohama Trophy, had a puncture and was also forced to retire.

The last laps were spiced up by a fierce battle between Tarquini and López. The Honda driver managed to defend the position in a drag race between López at the line, securing second by just 0.025 seconds, with Muller going on to take his fifth win of the season.

Sébastien Loeb finished fourth, with Rob Huff claiming fifth position for Lada. The Honda of Tiago Monteiro was sixth, followed by Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën driver Mehdi Bennani, winner in the Yokohama Trophy. Citroën’s Ma Qing Hua, Lada’s Nicolas Lapierre and Campos Chevrolet’s John Filippi rounded out the the top 10.

Yvan Muller was smiling again after getting back to the top spot of the podium: “Fantastic result, especially after the beginning of the weekend. I wasn’t clear on qualifying, but the guys gave me a great car. I was hoping for an opportunity to overtake, so it was good to win in the end.”

José María López’s lead is reduced slightly after race one, but the Argentinian still maintains a 75 point lead with just 110 points to be had from the last four races.

The next round of the WTCC takes place in Thailand on the 1st of November.