Muller takes first win for Cyan Racing in opening WTCR Ningbo race

Yvan Muller claimed his first World Touring Car Cup win with Cyan Racing's Lynk & Co 03 in the opening Ningbo race after resisting a spirited challenge from Ma Qing Hua

Muller had sealed his first World Touring Car pole for more than three years in Saturday's qualifying session, and used that to good effect to lead the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce of Ma and third-place started Mikel Azcona (PWR Cupra) into the first corner.

The four-time world champion's sternest test came further round the opening lap, when Ma drew alongside Muller and rubbed panels with the the Lynk & Co, but Muller rebuffed that attack before settling into a modest lead.

But Ma began to mount another challenge for the lead in the closing laps and ran on the tail of Muller through the final sequence of corners, though the Chinese driver ultimately fell short of winning the opening race of his home WTCR round.

Muller's victory did however ensure a home victory for the Lynk & Co brand, while the win was also his first since last year's Ningbo round a little under a year ago.

Azcona ran third from start to finish, though he almost forfeited it on the final lap to the BRC Racing Hyundai i30 N of title hopeful Norbert Michelisz.

Michelisz was not close enough to line up a move exiting Turns 10 and 11 on the penultimate lap, but had a much better approach to the two corners on the final lap and attempted to get a slingshot out of the double-corner hairpin.

Azcona was wise to this, quickly moving across to the left to block Michelisz, and kept the Hyundai at bay through the twistier section of the track to claim his fifth podium of the season.

Michelisz nevertheless made ground in the title race with fourth - ahead of team-mate Nicky Catsburg and the Comtoyou Cupra of Aurelien Panis - as points leader Esteban Guerrieri failed to score after his fire extinguisher went off on the grid.

Guerrieri, who qualified ninth but started 12th after a three-place grid penalty for an incident at the Vila Real round in July, was wheeled off the grid by his Munnich Motorsport team and started from the pitlane.

The Argentinian made up seven places but ended up outside of the points in 19th, meaning his lead over Michelisz is now just nine points.

Behind Panis, Augusto Farfus made it three Hyundais in the top 10 by finishing seventh, ahead of the leading Sebastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI of Johan Kristoffersson, Niels Langeveld (Comtoyou Audi RS3 LMS) and Rob Huff.

Muller's Lynk & Co team-mates Thed Bjork, Yann Ehrlacher and Andy Priaulx could only score minor points in 12th, 13th and 14th.

Result - 13 laps

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Yvan Muller Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 24m41.861s
2 Ma Qinghua Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo 0.263s
3 Mikel Azcona PWR Racing Cupra 2.444s
4 Norbert Michelisz BRC Squadra Corse Hyundai 2.843s
5 Nicky Catsburg BRC Racing Team Hyundai 3.092s
6 Aurelien Panis Comtoyou Cupra Cupra 3.603s
7 Augusto Farfus BRC Racing Team Hyundai 9.028s
8 Johan Kristoffersson SLR Volkswagen Volkswagen 11.440s
9 Niels Langeveld Comtoyou Audi Audi 12.526s
10 Rob Huff SLR VW Motorsport Volkswagen 13.903s
11 Frederic Vervisch Comtoyou Audi Audi 15.440s
12 Thed Bjork Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 18.021s
13 Yann Ehrlacher Cyan Performance Lynk & Co 18.602s
14 Andy Priaulx Cyan Performance Lynk & Co 19.602s
15 Nestor Girolami Munnich Motorsport Honda 20.069s
16 Jean-Karl Vernay WRT Audi 20.631s
17 Kevin Ceccon Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo 21.118s
18 Benjamin Leuchter SLR Volkswagen Volkswagen 21.515s
19 Esteban Guerrieri Munnich Motorsport Honda 23.224s
20 Mehdi Bennani SLR VW Motorsport Volkswagen 26.212s
21 Tiago Monteiro KCMG Honda 26.576s
22 Gordon Shedden WRT Audi 28.614s
23 Attila Tassi KCMG Honda 29.585s
24 Tom Coronel Comtoyou Cupra Cupra 39.538s
- Gabriele Tarquini BRC Squadra Corse Hyundai Retirement
- Daniel Haglof PWR Racing Cupra Retirement
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