Muller claims second win of WTCR Ningbo weekend, boosts title hopes

Four-time World Touring Car champion Yvan Muller claimed his second World Touring Car Cup victory of the Ningbo weekend in an attritional final race to thrust himself into title contention

While the race was yet another wild affair, featuring two safety-car periods, Muller and nephew Yann Ehrlacher steered clear of trouble at the front of the field in their pair of Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 03s to seal a one-two for the Chinese brand.

Muller led from start to finish after securing his second pole of the weekend earlier on Sunday, meaning he scored 76 points from a possible 85 on offer at the Chinese venue.

The victory also makes the Cyan Racing driver a serious title contender, as the leading two drivers in the standings both failed to finish.

Race two winner Norbert Michelisz's race effectively lasted less than half a lap, as he spun as a result of contact with the Lynk & Co of Andy Priaulx.

Initial replays suggested Michelisz hit Priaulx unprompted, but a second angle suggested the BRC Racing Hyundai driver had been pushed by the Comtoyou Audi RS3 LMS of Frederic Vervisch.

Race control announced the incident, which contributed to the safety car being called out for the first time, would be investigated after the race.

Michelisz remains 16 points clear at the head of the order, however, as Esteban Guerrieri stopped during the second safety-car period.

That was the second non-finish of the day for Guerrieri, meaning he failed to score a point across the entire weekend.

Behind Muller, who is now just one point behind Guerrieri, Ehrlacher finished ahead of the leading BRC Racing Hyundai i30 N of Gabriele Tarquini.

The reigning world champion had emerged from a four-car tussle after the second safety car - called when Mehdi Bennani tapped Tiago Monteiro into a heavy crash on the main straight - behind the sister car of Augusto Farfus, but was later allowed through by the Brazilian.

Farfus held off the third Lynk & Co 03 Thed Bjork to finish fourth, while Aurelien Panis - who ran third early on but lost ground at the second restart - was sixth in his Comtoyou Cupra.

Vervisch was a lonely seventh, ahead of Guerrieri's Munnich Motorsport team-mate Nestor Girolami.

Chinese driver Ma Qing Hua was on course to complete a heroic recovery from the pitlane to finish in the top eight, but copped damage to his Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce as he tried to overake the Honda Civic Type R of Girolami.

That did however allow Ma's team-mate Kevin Ceccon to poach ninth, ahead of Johan Kristoffersson's Sebastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI.

The points were completed by Priaulx, Tom Coronel, Attila Tassi, Bennani - who served a drivethrough penalty for his clash with Monteiro - and Gordon Shedden, who was the final finisher.

Result - 18 laps

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Yvan Muller Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 38m40.228s
2 Yann Ehrlacher Cyan Performance Lynk & Co 0.431s
3 Gabriele Tarquini BRC Squadra Corse Hyundai 1.234s
4 Augusto Farfus BRC Racing Team Hyundai 3.830s
5 Thed Bjork Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 4.248s
6 Aurelien Panis Comtoyou Cupra Cupra 5.064s
7 Frederic Vervisch Comtoyou Audi Audi 6.891s
8 Nestor Girolami Munnich Motorsport Honda 11.729s
9 Kevin Ceccon Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo 12.396s
10 Johan Kristoffersson SLR Volkswagen Volkswagen 13.903s
11 Andy Priaulx Cyan Performance Lynk & Co 16.238s
12 Tom Coronel Comtoyou Cupra Cupra 16.884s
13 Attila Tassi KCMG Honda 19.654s
14 Mehdi Bennani SLR VW Motorsport Volkswagen 28.521s
15 Gordon Shedden WRT Audi 37.661s
- Ma Qinghua Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Retirement
- Nicky Catsburg BRC Racing Team Hyundai Retirement
- Esteban Guerrieri Munnich Motorsport Honda Retirement
- Tiago Monteiro KCMG Honda Retirement
- Mikel Azcona PWR Racing Cupra Retirement
- Rob Huff SLR VW Motorsport Volkswagen Retirement
- Niels Langeveld Comtoyou Audi Audi Retirement
- Norbert Michelisz BRC Squadra Corse Hyundai Retirement
- Jean-Karl Vernay WRT Audi Retirement
- Benjamin Leuchter SLR Volkswagen Volkswagen Not started
- Daniel Haglof PWR Racing Cupra Retirement

Drivers' standings

Pos Driver Points
1 Norbert Michelisz 246
2 Esteban Guerrieri 231
3 Yvan Muller 230
4 Thed Bjork 208
5 Mikel Azcona 187
6 Nestor Girolami 184
7 Yann Ehrlacher 177
8 Gabriele Tarquini 155
9 Frederic Vervisch 150
10 Jean-Karl Vernay 146
11 Augusto Farfus 141
12 Nicky Catsburg 131
13 Ma Qinghua 126
14 Rob Huff 122
15 Johan Kristoffersson 113

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