Photo: WTCC Media

Mehdi Bennani and Thed Björk given penalties for incidents at Monza

Sébastien Loeb Racing’s Mehdi Bennani and Volvo’s Thed Björk have been punished by the stewards for incidents in the opening race at Monza.

Bennani and Honda’s Norbert Michelisz came together at the end of the third lap at the Parabolica whilst fighting for the lead. Michelisz made a move down the inside of Bennani’s Citroën, with the two locking wheels as the Moroccan turned into the corner, both sustaining terminal suspension damage.

“I didn’t expect him to fight at Parabolica, as it’s very tricky,” said Bennani to TouringCarTimes. “When I started to brake at the same point as I had before, and I felt a big crash and the race was over. At the end we are both losers, as we’ve lost a lot of points and given them to the others.”

Michelisz was unhappy about the damage to both his car and his championship standings after the incident, leaving the race weekend 39 points behind team-mate Tiago Monteiro in fourth in the standings.

“He should either defend before the corner, or if he leaves the door open, he shouldn’t turn into the corner as if I wasn’t there,” said Michelisz to TouringCarTimes.

“I can accept that he didn’t see me, but it doesn’t help me get the points back. I think everyone understood that the decision was because Mehdi turned into the corner like I wasn’t there.”

The stewards investigated the incident and have handed Bennani a five-place grid penalty for the next race at the Hungaroring.

Thed Björk meanwhile was given a one-second penalty for his pass on Esteban Guerrieri’s Campos Chevrolet in Race 1. The penalty drops Björk behind Guerrieri to fifth in the result, and so he drops back two more points to Monteiro in the championship standings, with the Portuguese driver now 15 points ahead.