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Portugal WTCC: Bennani wins as Monteiro takes points lead

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Portugal WTCC: Bennani wins as Monteiro takes points lead
Jun 25, 2017, 4:27 PM

Sebastien Loeb Racing’s Mehdi Bennani won the opening WTCC race at Vila Real, the first to feature the all-new joker lap, ahead of new championship leader Tiago Monteiro.

Mehdi Bennani, Sébastien Loeb Racing, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
Yann Ehrlacher, RC Motorsport, Lada Vesta
Thed Björk, Polestar Cyan Racing, Volvo S60 Polestar TC1
Esteban Guerrieri, Campos Racing, Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1
Tiago Monteiro, Honda Racing Team JAS, Honda Civic WTCC
Esteban Guerrieri, Campos Racing, Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1
Yann Ehrlacher, RC Motorsport, Lada Vesta
Yann Ehrlacher, RC Motorsport, Lada Vesta

The key to Bennani’s victory was in his start, as the Citroen driver leapt from fourth on the grid past the two battling Argentinians of Volvo driver Nestor Girolami and the Campos Chevrolet of Esteban Guerrieri, while Ryo Michigami held on to the lead in his Honda.

Michigami’s lead was short-lived however, with Bennani quickly passing the Japanese driver and beginning to build a lead over the Honda, who was now defending against Girolami’s Volvo.

The first driver to take a joker lap in the WTCC would be Bennani’s teammate Tom Chilton on Lap 3, with the Volvo of Nicky Catsburg, the Citroen of Rob Huff and Norbert Michelisz’s Honda following him through.

A lap later, and it was Monteiro’s and Bjork’s turn to take the joker lap, with Bjork effectively gaining a place, passing Chilton in the process and moving up to fifth.

Bennani built up a five-second lead and took his joker lap on the sixth lap, rejoining ahead of Michigami and Girolami, who both had now been caught by Monteiro and Bjork.

This played against the pole-sitter, as he served his joker lap a lap later but dropped to fifth in the queue of cars, while Girolami came back on to the track in eighth, rejoining alongside the Citroen of Huff and fighting through the final corner.

Catsburg and Huff then passed Michigami on track, before the Japanese driver suffered a puncture and was forced to head to the pits, joining Lada’s Kevin Gleason and Guerrieri as the only retirements of the race.

Bennani won the race just under a second clear of Monteiro, with the Portuguese driver closing during the final laps of the race, with Bjork finishing third.

Monteiro’s second place elevates him back into the lead of the championship, seven points ahead of Catsburg, with Bjork one point further behind. 

Neil Hudson / TouringCarTimes

Results:

ClaDriverChassisGapPoints
1 morocco Mehdi Bennani  Citroën   25
2 portugal Tiago Monteiro  Honda 0.799 18
3 sweden Thed Björk  Volvo 1.632 15
4 united_kingdom Tom Chilton  Citroën 2.447 12
5 netherlands Nicky Catsburg  Volvo 4.459 10
6 united_kingdom Rob Huff  Citroën 4.855 8
7 hungary Norbert Michelisz  Honda 6.040 6
8 argentina Nestor Girolami  Volvo 12.317 4
9 france Yann Ehrlacher  LADA 13.151 2
10 france John Filippi  Citroën 16.210 1
11 france Aurelien Panis  Honda 34.376  
12 portugal Manuel Fernandes  LADA 51.335  
13 hungary Daniel Nagy  Honda 57.739  
  japan Ryo Michigami  Honda 3 laps  
  united_states Kevin Gleason  LADA 8 laps  
  argentina Esteban Guerrieri  Chevrolet  
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About this article

Series WTCC
Event Vila Real
Location Circuito Internacional de Vila Real
Drivers Mehdi Bennani