Wuhan WTCR: Loeb VW's Bennani beats Comte in thrilling finish

Sebastien Loeb Racing's Mehdi Bennani claimed his first win at World Touring Car level since last November in a thrilling finish to the reversed-grid race in Wuhan

Wuhan WTCR: Loeb VW's Bennani beats Comte in thrilling finish

Bennani was gradually reeled in by the DG Sport Peugeot 308TCR of Aurelien Comte, who passed the Moroccan for the lead on the run to the penultimate corner only to run wide and hand victory back to Bennani.

The majority of the action came at the beginning, with SLR Volkswagen Golf GTI driver Bennani surviving an attack from the fast-starting Comte - who passed the Boutsen Ginion Honda of Ma Qing Hua on the run to Turn 1.

Ma was boxed in against the wall on the inside of the left-hander, and his slide back through the pack delayed others behind - resulting in final race polesitter Gordon Shedden being spat out into the wall.

With Shedden unable continue - the WRT Audi driver recovering his RS3 LMS to the pits with suspected broken power steering - Bennani scampered clear in the opening laps, extending an early advantage of 2.295 seconds over Comte, who was backing the pack up.

But Comte found a rhythm before the halfway point in the 18-lap race and set about eating into Bennani's lead, getting within half a second of the Golf for the first time with four laps remaining.

Comte was close enough to attempt to pass the leader on the final lap, and engineered his way into first by cutting back off the Turn 10/11 right-left and getting the front of his Peugeot up the inside of Bennani on the back straight.

But Comte then squirmed wide under braking for the penultimate hairpin, allowing Bennani back up the inside to secure victory on the short run through the final corner and over the line.

Having scored only his second podium of the WTCR season at Ningbo a week earlier - and his first since the second race of the season in Marrakech - Bennani's win was his first since the opening race of the Guia Race weekend in Macau last year.

Comte held on to second over the line after both he and Bennani were caught on the final lap by the lead Comtoyou Audi of Nathanael Berthon, who scored his first WTCR podium.

Berthon had earlier unseated the Campos Racing Cupra of Pepe Oriola from third with a bold move around the outside of the long Turn 9 left-hander, before racing up to the tail of the lead battle.

Oriola held on to fifth ahead of three more Audis - the WRT machine of title hopeful Jean-Karl Vernay and Comtoyou pair Frederic Vervisch and Aurelien Panis.

Ma finished the race in eighth after passing the fourth Comtoyou car of Denis Dupont cleanly three laps from the finish, but is under investigation for a pass on Rob Huff (SLR Volkswagen Golf GTI) at the hairpin that dropped Huff to 11th.

Dupont was ninth, while Yvan Muller became the first Hyundai driver to score a point all weekend in 10th.

Race two result

Pos Driver Team Car Laps Gap
1 Mehdi Bennani Sebastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen 18 25m35.996s
2 Aurelien Comte DG Sport Competition Peugeot 18 0.478s
3 Nathanael Berthon Comtoyou Racing Audi 18 0.618s
4 Pepe Oriola Campos Racing Cupra 18 5.115s
5 Jean-Karl Vernay WRT Audi 18 5.516s
6 Frederic Vervisch Comtoyou Racing Audi 18 5.988s
7 Aurelien Panis Comtoyou Racing Audi 18 6.489s
8 Denis Dupont Comtoyou Racing Audi 18 11.585s
9 Yvan Muller YMR Hyundai 18 12.176s
10 Rob Huff Sebastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen 18 12.482s
11 Kevin Ceccon Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo 18 13.814s
12 Ma Qinghua Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda 18 15.229s
13 Esteban Guerrieri Munnich Motorsport Honda 18 15.373s
14 Norbert Michelisz BRC Racing Team Hyundai 18 16.025s
15 Yann Ehrlacher Munnich Motorsport Honda 18 16.664s
16 Fabrizio Giovanardi Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo 18 26.507s
17 Zsolt Szabo Zengo Motorsport Cupra 18 41.252s
- Norbert Nagy Zengo Motorsport Cupra 13 Retirement
- Gabriele Tarquini BRC Racing Team Hyundai 11 Retirement
- Tom Coronel Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda 7 Retirement
- Thed Bjork YMR Hyundai 7 Retirement
- John Filippi Campos Racing Cupra 3 Retirement
- Timo Scheider Munnich Motorsport Honda 3 Retirement
- Mat'o Homola DG Sport Competition Peugeot 1 Retirement
- Gordon Shedden WRT Audi 1 Retirement


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Series WTCR
Drivers Sébastien Loeb , Mehdi Bennani
Author Jack Cozens
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