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Shanghai WTCC: Mehdi Bennani scores Honda's first 2014 win

Proteam racer Mehdi Bennani delivered Honda's first World Touring Car Championship victory of 2014 with a flawless drive from reversed-grid pole in race two at Shanghai

The result was the Moroccan's first win since entering the championship as a guest driver in Marrakech in 2009.

Bennani was forced to sit down exhausted and overcome with emotion after exiting his car in parc ferme.

"I have to thank the King of Morocco for supporting me, especially early in my career," said Bennani, whose Proteam Civic carries the latest factory evolutions.

"My country has no real motorsport background, and to be here fighting with some of the best drivers in the world is a great way to say thank you for all of the people who believed in me."

Factory JAS Honda man Tiago Monteiro held station in second and was on hand to act as a rear-guard if required to hold off Shanghai race one winner Jose Maria Lopez's Citroen.

But the Portuguese ex-Formula 1 driver's assistance was not needed, as Bennani built a comfortable 2.5-second margin of victory.

Lopez appeared to suppress his usual feistiness, in part perhaps as a reaction to distant title rival Yvan Muller's retirement after being T-boned by Citroen team-mate Sebastien Loeb at the Turn 14 hairpin.

The Argentinean now enjoys a 384 point tally in the drivers' standings, compared to second-placed Muller's 291, and is all but assured of the title.

Muller's C-Elysee sustained a broken right-rear wheel in the incident with Loeb, which occurred when the reigning WTCC champion was looking to pass Hugo Valente's fourth-placed Campos Chevrolet Cruze on lap three.

"I don't know what happened," said Muller. "I was looking to turn into the corner and I felt a touch.

"It has not been the best weekend or season for me personally, but I am happy for Citroen to win the manufacturers' title as I have been involved with the project since its beginning last June."

Honda had locked-out the podium positions at the time of the intra-team Citroen collision, but early second-place runner Gabriele Tarquini suddenly slowed with a technical issue on lap five.

Valente tried his best to defend against Loeb and Lopez, but they eventually got past for third and fourth.

Norbert Michelisz was also in the mix ahead of the fourth Citroen of Ma Qing Hua, and Valente fell down the order after appearing to be clipped when overtaken by Michelisz.

The Zengo Honda survived to take fifth place, as Valente was passed for eighth by fellow Cruze runner Tom Chilton on the last lap.

RESULTS - 15 LAPS:

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Mehdi Bennani Proteam Racing Honda 26m21.882s
2 Tiago Monteiro Castrol Honda WTC Team Honda 2.590s
3 Jose Maria Lopez Citroen Total WTCC Citroen 4.041s
4 Norbert Michelisz Zengo Motorsport Honda 13.976s
5 Ma Qinghua Citroen Total WTCC Citroen 14.416s
6 Tom Coronel ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet 21.725s
7 Tom Chilton ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet 22.933s
8 Hugo Valente Campos Racing Chevrolet 27.276s
9 Dusan Borkovic NIS Petrol by Campos Racing Chevrolet 27.855s
10 James Thompson LADA Sport Lukoil Lada 28.028s
11 Mikhail Kozlovskiy LADA Sport Lukoil Lada 39.940s
12 Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WTCC Citroen 41.238s
13 Gianni Morbidelli All-Inkl.com Munnich Motorsport Chevrolet 1m06.588s
14 Franz Engstler Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW 1m11.237s
15 John Filippi Campos Racing SEAT 1m35.752s
16 Filipe Souza Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW 1 Lap
- Rene Munnich All-Inkl.com Munnich Motorsport Chevrolet Retirement
- Gabriele Tarquini Castrol Honda WTC Team Honda Retirement
- Rob Huff LADA Sport Lukoil Lada Retirement
- Yvan Muller Citroen Total WTCC Citroen Retirement
- William Lok Campos Racing SEAT Not started

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS AFTER ROUND 20 OF 24:

Pos Driver Points
1 Jose Maria Lopez 384
2 Yvan Muller 291
3 Sebastien Loeb 251
4 Tiago Monteiro 170
5 Norbert Michelisz 142
6 Gabriele Tarquini 134
7 Tom Coronel 130
8 Tom Chilton 123
9 Gianni Morbidelli 103
10 Mehdi Bennani 85
11 Rob Huff 66
12 Ma Qinghua 65
13 Hugo Valente 59
14 James Thompson 20
15 Dusan Borkovic 19


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