ROUNDS 11 & 12 – MOSCOW RACEWAY, RUSSIA
History was made today in the WTCC at the Moscow Raceway today when Ma Qing Hua became the first-ever Chinese driver to win a race in an FIA World Championship.
The fact that Ma drove a fourth factory Citroën C-Elysée helped him immensely of course, but to win on the WTCC debut still demands a serious set of driving skills.
Championship leader José Maria López had a weekend of mixed emotions, winning the first race after leading every corner of every lap, and then retiring from Race 2 when the gear linkage broke on the starting grid; the first time López did not score any points in a race.
This allowed reigning world champion Yvan Muller to close the gap to the Argentine a bit, though there is still half of the championship to be run. With Sébastien Loeb in third in the first race, all four Citroën drivers had a taste of the podium.
Muller and Loeb are not lying 41 and 48 points behind López, respectively.
Once again Honda’s expectations after a promising qualifying were disappointed. The two podiums claimed by Gabriele Tarquini and Mehdi Bennani were a meagre consolation as the Japanese cars are not yet enough performing and reliable to match Citroën’s performance.
Franz Engstler continued his triumphant march in the TC2T class by taking two further wins.
Official figures released by the track spoke of 22,000 spectators over the two days.
The championship will resume at Spa-Francorchamps, on June 22 for rounds 13 and 14.
RACE 1 – LOPEZ SCORES FOURTH WIN
José Maria López scored a commanding win in the first of the two Russian rounds of the FIA WTCC.
The Argentine came briefly under attack from Gabriele Tarquini at the start of the race, but a misunderstanding between Monteiro and Tarquini that resulted in a slight contact gave him the necessary room to take a defining lead already after just one corner.
Sébastien Loeb finished in third, just 0.2 seconds behind the Honda of Tarquini, while reigning world champion Yvan Muller managed to take fourth place from Tom Chilton on the final lap.
Citroën’s newcomer Ma Qing Hua scored his first WTCC points by finishing in sixth, while Rob Huff claimed a tenth place for LADA.
In TC2T Franz Engstler scored yet another win ahead of his team mate Pasquale di Sabatino
RACE 2 – MA QING HUA WINS ON HIS DEBUT
Ma Qing Hua, driving a fourth works Citroën car, wrote history today by becoming the first-ever Chinese driver to win a race of an FIA World Championship.
On the opposite end of the scale of happiness, WTCC points leader José Maria López stalled on the grid and retired; the first time this season the Argentine driver does not score any points. The works Honda cars, too, had a race to forget with both Gabriele Tarquini and Tiago Monteiro retiring for technical reasons while fighting for podium positions.
Honda privateer Mehdi Bennani saved the day for the Japanese manufacturer by finishing in third. Franz Engstler encored his victory in the TC2T class.