Jose Maria Lopez led an all-Citroen top three in Race 1 at Shanghai, as Citroen secured the WTCC manufacturers’ crown for the second year in a row.
At the start, both Ma Qing Hua and Hugo Valente stalled on the grid, and although miraculously everyone avoided the pair, Gabriele Tarquini and Rob Huff collided and both suffered broken suspension heading into Turn 1.
Campos Racing’s John Filippi also spun at the first corner, starting a chain reaction of drivers braking and trying to avoid each other, which saw both Chevrolets from ROAL Motorsport sustaining heavy damage.
The Safety Car was deployed and it stayed on for three laps, with the total race distance extended to 16 laps.
At the restart, Lopez pulled away, with Yvan Muller in second place, closely followed by Sebastien Loeb. Nicky Catsburg was fourth, with Mehdi Bennani immediately behind.
The incidents on the first lap allowed Ma and Valente to climb up the order. After the restart, the Frenchman overtook Honda’s Tiago Monteiro for 11th place, with the Chevrolet from Campos Racing also making a move on Stefano D’Aste in the following lap.
Gregoire Demoustier retired from the race on lap nine, whilst Catsburg, who was losing ground behind Loeb, focused on getting away from the C-Elysee of Bennani.
On lap 12, Norbert Michelisz, who had managed to climb to seventh place, went side by side with Nico Lapierre trying to overtake, but the Frenchman managed to defend his position.
Behind the pair, Ma suffered transmission problems, missing the braking point and almost collecting Michelisz under braking. The Chinese driver returned to the pits and retired.
The closing stages of the race saw Monteiro attack Valente and overtake for eighth place. Also, Lapierre was attacked by Michelisz, with the Hungarian overtaking and gaining sixth position on the last lap.
At the chequered flag, Lopez took his eighth win of the season, joined by teammates Muller and Loeb on the podium.
Catsburg was fourth, followed by Bennani, who was the winner in the Yokohama Trophy. Michelisz ended up sixth, with Lapierre, Monteiro, Valente and D’Aste completing the top 10.
Lopez gave all the credit for the result to his team: “Congratulations to everyone in Citroen Racing. To all who aren’t here, because everybody is part of this, and I’m very proud to be part of this team.
"I wasn’t aware of what happened behind me, I was trying to do my race and focus on my result.”
Valente, meanwhile, admitted that the starting incident was his fault: “I stalled on the grid, managed to get a good result and bring the car home, so we are going to be conservative now and continue to score points.”
Race two will immediately follow in today’s delayed programme.
|1||Jose María Lopez||Citroen||33'21.641|
|11||Ma Qing Hua||Citroen||4 Laps|
Tamara Aller / TouringCarTimes