André Couto secures race two honours at Tianma
Having been brought into the Dongfeng Kia Racing Team line-up for the penultimate weekend of the CTCC season, André Couto did what was required to aid the team in its title challenge with victory in the second race of the weekend at Tianma.
The Macanese driver had finished tenth in the opening race at the wheel of his Kia K3 2.0T but would emerge as the comfortable victor of the reverse grid second race as the Dongfeng Kia squad made it two wins from two to extend its lead in the teams’ standings.
Couto had found himself running between the Ford Focus cars of Andy Yan and Josh Burdon in the early stages of the race, with the top three able to break away from the chasing pack – which was backed up behind the Volkswagen of Yang Fan, who had been due to start from pole before a penalty for contact with Martin Cao in race one.
As Yan and Couto dropped Burdon to create a two way battle for the lead, the Ford driver looked good to secure victory but Couto was eventually able to find a way ahead on the 19th lap and then eased away at the front to take the win by just over four seconds.
Burdon was three seconds further back to give the Changan Ford FRD Team a double podium finish but it was a close run thing thanks to stunning pace from Colin Turkington and race one winner Alex Fontana in the closing stages.
The pair had been amongst those drivers caught up in the midfield battles following their results on Saturday and took until the mid-way point of the race to get ahead of Yan, who would eventually plummet to dead last after contact with title hopeful Jason Zhang.
Turkington would be the quickest man on track in the second part of the race as he tried to close down the gap to the podium places ahead but had to settle for fourth spot in his VW Lamando, with Fontana just behind in fifth.
Reigning champion David Zhu was the best of the Senova drivers in sixth ahead of team-mate Adam Morgan, with the top ten completed by Leo Yi, Juan Carlos Zhu and Zhang Zhen Dong.
That eighth place for Yi means he extended his lead in the standings over the non-scoring Zhang to 38.5 points going into the season finale – with the two Kia drivers the only ones who can now win the title.