Chevrolet and Honda cars alternated in dominating the races at Shanghai International Circuit today.
An avalanche of Cruze cars filled the first five spots in Race 1, despite a shower had shuffled the cards a few minutes before the start. The two RML drivers made their gamble going for slick tyres, and won. Pepe Oriola, who had opted for the wets, tried everything to resist while Yvan Muller and Tom Chilton were coming back, but eventually was forced to give up.
In Race 2, Tiago Monteiro took a convincing lights to flag victory keeping his team-mate Gabriele Tarquini at bay, while Norbert Michelisz defended the third position to give Honda the second 1-2-3 finish of the season after Slovakia Ring.
In the Drivers’ Championship, now focus is on the fight for the second place, that sees Tarquini having a 22-point gap ahead of Chilton, while James Nash lies a further seven points adrift.
And Nash scored two victories in the Yokohama Trophy, that nearly granted him the title. His leading margin ahead of his bamboo-engineering team-mate Alex MacDowall is now of 41 points, with 43 still at stake.
At the same time the RML team clinched the Yokohama Teams’ Trophy, further increasing their already large margin.
Among the drivers who were shining in China, Tom Boardman deserves to be mentioned. Not only he scored his first points of the season in the Drivers’ Championship, but also finished twice on the Yokohama Trophy podium and – icing on the cake – overtook Michelisz and Monteiro for ninth at the end of Race 1.
The one-off appearance of Thed Björk and the Polestar Racing Volvo ended in a very disappointing way. Although the driver and the car had showed a very promising pace, a grid penalty after qualifying and an electrical problem at the start of Race 1 spoiled what could have been an exciting weekend for the Swedish team.
The championship will resume in two weeks for the final rounds 23 and 24 at Macau on November 17.
ROB HUFF JOINS LADA SPORT FOR 2014
2012 World Touring Car champion Rob Huff will join LADA Sport Lukoil for the next two seasons. Huff himself unveiled the deal during the TV live broadcasting, at the end of the Shanghai’s first race.
The man from Cambridge will be at the wheel of the team’s third Granta car alongside his fellow countryman James Thompson and Russia’s Mikhail Kozlowskiy who have been both confirmed for 2014.
In a move that demonstrates its commitment to WTCC, the Russian manufacturer forged a technical collaboration with ORECA in 2013 and they will jointly develop a revised version of the Granta racing car in compliance with the championship’s new technical regulations for 2014.
Huff stated: “I’m delighted with this new association with LADA Sport Lukoil and it’s a massive thrill to be back with a manufacturer team. It will be an honour to work with such an ambitious and hard-working group of people. I’m also really excited about racing as a team-mate to James Thompson, because I have a huge amount of respect for him. I’m determined to emulate the sort of success I had with Chevrolet, taking LADA Sport to the top in WTCC. The team is still fairly new to the championship and I hope to be able to use my knowledge and experience to make an active contribution towards building a championship-winning outfit.”
Team Principal Victor Shapovalov echoed: “We are very happy to have such a talented and experienced driver as part of our team. We have made significant progress since the start of the season and proved that the LADA Granta car is capable of fighting for the top five positions. Rob Huff’s driving skill can contribute much to the team’s success. The increased driver line-up for 2014 and 2015 will help us to strengthen our position. In view of a forthcoming season with new manufacturers joining, we set very ambitious goals. I am sure that the pair of Huff and Thompson will be one of the strongest in the Championship.”