Macau, Race 1: Bennani wins
"It’s very special to win here"
Mehdi Bennani led all the way to claim victory in the Opening Race at WTCC JVCKENWOOD Race of Macau as FIA World Touring Car Championship title contender Norbert Michelisz was involved a crash that stopped the action early on the tight Guia street track.
Sébastien Loeb Racing’s Bennani made a perfect start from his reverse-grid DHL Pole Position and was never challenged in his Citroën C-Elysée WTCC, as Macau veteran Tom Coronel consolidated his second place on the grid with the runner-up spot in his ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1.
“It’s very special to win here in Macau,” said a delighted Bennani. “It’s such a challenging circuit and it’s great to put my name with the likes of Schumacher and Senna as a winner at Macau! Thanks to everybody!”
The race around the 6.120-kilometre track came to an early end after Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team driver Michelisz clipped a wall. His Honda Civic WTCC blocked the track, leaving Esteban Guerrieri, Rob Huff, Tom Chilton and the rest of the field with no way to pass. There was no option but to red flag the race and results were called after five of the scheduled eight racing laps.
Behind Bennani and Coronel, Ryo Michigami claimed a maiden podium, the first in the WTCC by a Japanese driver, with third place in his Honda Racing Team JAS Honda Civic WTCC. He finished ahead of Thed Björk, who stretched his championship lead in his Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo S60.
His main title rival Michelisz was still classified fifth despite his accident. Honda team-mate Esteban Guerrieri was sixth ahead of Main Race DHL Pole Position setter Rob Huff. The Briton and eight-time Suncity Group Guia Race winner, was the man to watch in this Opening Race, as he charged past RC Motorsport driver Kevin Gleason to make progress on a circuit where it is famously difficult to overtake.
Fellow Briton Tom Chilton was eighth in his Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée WTCC, while Nicky Catsburg’s Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo was ninth. Gleason rounded out the top 10.
The Main Race at WTCC JVCKENWOOD Race of Macau takes place on Sunday at 10h45am local time.
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