WTCR Ningbo: Bjork wins again as Tarquini retakes points lead

Thed Bjork claimed his second win of the World Touring Car Cup weekend at Ningbo, completing a clean sweep at the Chinese circuit for the YMR Hyundai team

WTCR Ningbo: Bjork wins again as Tarquini retakes points lead

Having secured another qualifying pole in Sunday morning's session, Bjork was again in command at the start of the race after successfully beating the BRC Hyundai i30 Ns of Norbert Michelisz and Gabriele Tarquini off the line.

Bjork had established a comfortable 2.792-second lead over Tarquini when the race was red flagged with nine laps completed, to allow repairs to be made to kerbs at the Turn 15/16 left-right at the back end of the circuit.

With a tyre stack put in place at Turn 16, the field completed one lap behind the safety car before racing resumed on lap 11.

Bjork was quick to establish a one-second gap back to Tarquini, and eased away - with Tarquini pursued by the Comtoyou Audi RS3 LMS of Denis Dupont - to win, hoisting himself fully into title contention after team-mate Yvan Muller retired.

Muller's race was a scrappy one, but he had sat in eighth until he slowed and returned to the pits a lap before the red flag.

Tarquini had no answer to Bjork's pace, but with second has returned to the lead of the drivers' standings after his own retirement in race two allowed Muller ahead.

The Italian now has an eight-point advantage over Bjork - who started the weekend sixth overall - with Muller a further point further back.

Behind Tarquini, Dupont bettered the fourth place he achieved in race two to land a maiden WTCR podium, while his Comtoyou team-mate Frederic Vervisch completed two late passes after the red flag to claim fourth.

The second BRC Hyundai of Michelisz came home a subdued fifth ahead of Rob Huff, who clung on to sixth despite a train of cars breathing down the Sebastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI driver's neck in the closing stages.

Pepe Oriola (Campos Racing Cupra) was lead among that pack, crossing the line ahead of Nathanael Berthon - who briefly got ahead of Huff only to slide off and drop back into the pack.

Aurelien Panis's ninth place meant all four Comtoyou Audis finished in the points, and race two runner-up Mehdi Bennani secured 10th.

Esteban Guerrieri, who had scored podiums in the weekend's first two races, passed Michelisz for second at the Turn 11 hairpin on the opening lap but made contact with the Hyundai while doing so, and slowed on the subsequent straight with a suspected suspension issue.

Result - 17 laps

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Thed Bjork YMR Hyundai 54m20.993s
2 Gabriele Tarquini BRC Racing Team Hyundai 1.928s
3 Denis Dupont Comtoyou Racing Audi 4.020s
4 Frederic Vervisch Comtoyou Racing Audi 7.235s
5 Norbert Michelisz BRC Racing Team Hyundai 8.855s
6 Rob Huff Sebastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen 10.572s
7 Pepe Oriola Campos Racing Cupra 11.061s
8 Nathanael Berthon Comtoyou Racing Audi 12.118s
9 Aurelien Panis Comtoyou Racing Audi 12.871s
10 Mehdi Bennani Sebastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen 13.737s
11 Timo Scheider Munnich Motorsport Honda 14.229s
12 Jean-Karl Vernay WRT Audi 14.678s
13 Gordon Shedden WRT Audi 15.620s
14 Kevin Ceccon Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo 19.862s
15 Norbert Nagy Zengo Motorsport Cupra 20.316s
16 Aurelien Comte DG Sport Competition Peugeot 21.229s
17 Tom Coronel Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda 23.155s
18 Mat'o Homola DG Sport Competition Peugeot 25.605s
19 Yann Ehrlacher Munnich Motorsport Honda 26.370s
20 John Filippi Campos Racing Cupra 1 Lap
21 Zsolt Szabo Zengo Motorsport Cupra 1 Lap
- Yvan Muller YMR Hyundai Retirement
- Fabrizio Giovanardi Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Retirement
- Esteban Guerrieri Munnich Motorsport Honda Retirement
- Ma Qinghua Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda Not started

Drivers' standings

Pos Driver Points
1 Gabriele Tarquini 241
2 Thed Bjork 233
3 Yvan Muller 232
4 Norbert Michelisz 195
5 Yann Ehrlacher 178
6 Esteban Guerrieri 174
7 Jean-Karl Vernay 166
8 Pepe Oriola 165
9 Rob Huff 161
10 Frederic Vervisch 143

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WTCR Ningbo: Muller wins, assumes points lead as Tarquini retires

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Series WTCR
Drivers Gabriele Tarquini
Author Jack Cozens
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