Chevrolet’s tally in WTCC doesn’t stop to increase, and same applies to Yvan Muller’s leading gap in the 2013 Drivers’ Championship. At the wheel of their Cruze cars, Muller and Michel Nykjær shared honours on the first appearance of the FIA touring cars in Russia, and the Frenchman made the most out of the weekend collecting a pocketful of points for pole position, victory and second place.
Now his booty totals to nearly twice the points of the closer competitor: 246 against Gabriele Tarquini’s 133. And this only halfway through the season...
Nykjær, who claimed his third win after Marrakech and Salzburgring, has become able to turn his potential in solid results. Not only he now finds himself fighting with Tarquini for second in the Drivers’ Championship, but has also taken the lead in the Yokohama Trophy, one point ahead of James Nash.
However, today’s event at the Moscow Raceway could have delivered completely different results.
In Race 1 Tom Coronel was able to threaten Muller for the whole distance, and possibly without the red flag he could have exploited the rear-wheel drive’s advantage in terms of tyre wear. The final result saw five different brands covered by ten seconds in the top five positions: Chevrolet, BMW, Honda, SEAT and LADA.
A great achievement for the Russian manufacturer in their home race. And in the second one James Thompson was even in a position to improve it, as he was fighting for third when he got caught in the collision between Coronel and Tarquini.
Also in the second race, Mehdi Bennani was close once again to claim his and Proteam Racing’s first WTCC victory. For the third time after Sonoma last year and Hungaroring one month ago, the Moroccan was leading the race.
He failed again to turn the lead into a victory despite his efforts. But if he keeps on racing like this, it will be only a matter of time. The championship will resume at Porto’s Boavista street circuit on June 29th and 30th for rounds 13 and 14.
Race 1 - Muller Beats Coronel
Yvan Muller claimed his fourth victory of the season, resisting the strong pressure from Tom Coronel who couldn’t find a gap for an overtaking manoeuvre.
Muller was may be helped by the red flag that suspended the race on lap 4, following the incident that involved Charles Ng and Fredy Barth after the start.
This cut the race in two legs – of 4 and 11 laps – which allowed Muller to save and cool down the front tyres.
Norbert Michelisz obtained another podium results for Honda, while Rob Huff and James Thompson were classified in fourth and fifth respectively.
This meant five different manufacturers – Chevrolet, BMW, Honda, SEAT and LADA – in the top five and the best result ever for LADA in WTCC so far.
Michel Nykjaer finished seventh and won the Yokohama Trophy race. As a consequence of the incident at the start, Fredy Barth did not take part in Race 2 because of an injured wrist, while Charles Ng lost his front row position on the reversed grid having asked for neutralization of the parc fermé for repairs.
Race 2 - Nykjær steal win from Bennani
Michel Nykjaer won an action-packed second race at the Moscow Raceway, chasing early leader Mehdi Bennani and eventually overtaking him to claim his third victory of the season.
Bennani then spun while trying to defend second position under strong pressure from Rob Huff and Yvan Muller. The latter benefited from the contact between Bennani and Huff to collect a second place that means another step towards a possible fourth World Champion crown.
The result of the race was affected by a pile up on lap 3 that eliminated Tom Coronel, Gabriele Tarquini and James Thompson while they were fighting for the third position. This incident was investigated by the Stewards who thoroughly studied video evidences and decided that it did not require further action.