With the top ten from qualifying reversed for the second World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) race at Ningbo, Mehdi Bennani and Yvan Muller started at the front of the pack. Muller passed his Moroccan counterpart off the line however, and led the way into turn one.
Mid-way through the top ten, Esteban Guerrieri and Rob Huff were running close in a hard-fought battle, as Jean-Karl Vernay‘s desperation to climb the order from thirteenth saw him slide off the circuit.
Through the tight sector two complex, Gabriele Tarquini misjudged a braking zone and ran into the back of Guerrieri’s Honda on entry to the chicane. Tarquini came off worse however, as the Italian’s Hyundai suffered significant frontal damage which led to immediate retirement. A non-score here meant that Tarquini’s lead in the points standings was under threat if the results didn’t fall his way.
Meanwhile, Guerrieri was on a charge and slotted past Huff in a neat switch-back manoeuvre. However, the Argentine then ran wide through the following corner, allowing Huff to reclaim the position. But onto the second lap, Huff could defend no longer, and conceded his place to Guerrieri in sector one.
As the Brit tried to retaliate, he came under fire from Thed Bjork who successfully edged past the Volkswagen too. Nathanael Berthon, meanwhile, overtook Norbert Michelisz just behind. Guerrieri’s stunning performance this weekend continued shortly after, having pressured Denis Dupont into making a mistake for another position.
Up ahead, Yann Ehrlacher was eagerly trying to hold onto the final podium spot with Frederic Vervisch latched right onto his rear bumper. For the most part, the initial battle was rough but fair. On lap twelve, their battle would come to an unfortunate end, however.
Vervisch attempted to pass on the inside line into turn two, but in a moment of defensive desperation, Ehrlacher shut the door on the Audi. This proved to be a big mistake though as the Honda was pitched sideways. Both lost a handful positions, and it was Guerrieri who emerged in third place with Dupont on his tail.
This was supposed to be a big-scoring race for Ehrlacher in his quest to to get back into the championship hunt, but at this stage the young Frenchman found himself in a lowly tenth place. But if you thought things couldn’t get any worse for him after losing a potential top three finish, you’d be wrong. As Ma Qing Hua tried an audacious move to overtake the car in eleventh place, he tagged the rear of Ehrlacher’s Honda. The contact broke its rear suspension and ended all hopes that Ehrlacher had of scoring even a single point.
But while Ehrlacher suffered misfortune, his uncle, Yvan Muller took a comprehensive race victory and therefore took the lead in the championship points standings. Mehdi Bennani brought his Volkswagen home in an impressive second place, while Esteban Guerrieri held onto third.
Denis Dupont scored his best result of the season in fourth in what has been a breakthrough event for the young Belgian. There was a drag race for fifth place across the finish line, which was won on this occasion by Rob Huff.
Full Race Result:
|1st||Yvan Muller||Hyundai||13 laps|
|11th||Norbert Michelisz||Hyundai||+18.257 (after 5 second penalty)|
|12th||Kevin Ceccon||Alfa Romeo||+22.473|
|13th||Fabrizio Giovanardi||Alfa Romeo||+27.417|
|17th||Ma Qing Hua||Honda||+1:01:12 (after 30 second penalty)|
|18th||Timo Scheider||Honda||+1 lap|