Qatar WTCC: Chilton wins as Bjork closes on title

Tom Chilton claimed victory in the penultimate race of the WTCC season in Qatar as Volvo's Thed Bjork inched closer to the drivers' title.

Sebastien Loeb Racing driver Chilton passed teammate Mehdi Bennani with a little over two laps of the race to go and eased home from there to a winning margin of 2.175 seconds.

Morrocan Bennani had cleared off into an early lead in his Citroen after passing polesitter Kevin Gleason around the outside of the first corner at the start of lap two, with Chilton having to wait a further lap to make a similar move.

The Briton chipped away at the gap to the leader over the next couple of laps, but found significant time on lap six to close to within a second of Bennani for the first time. By the start of lap eight, he was on his teammate's bumper over the line.

Chilton attempted to cut back inside Bennani off the first corner but couldn't make a move stick after hanging his Citroen around the outside for a couple of corners.

But Chilton stuck at it and nosed his way up the inside into the sequence of right handers at Turns 12, 13 and 14 and eventually forced Bennani out of the way to grab his third victory of the season.

As a result, Chilton now has a lead of 1.5 points in the Independents' Trophy over Bennani.

Gleason completed the podium - his first since joining the WTCC ranks - some way back in his RC Motorsport Lada, with the third SLR Citroen of John Filippi fourth and points leader Bjork fifth.

Bjork looked as though he had the pace to pass the pair ahead in his Volvo S60 but sat comfortably in their wake with teammate Yvan Muller protecting him from behind.

He now has a 16.5-point lead heading into the season finale over Honda's Norbert Michelisz, with 30 on offer in the season finale.

Michelisz made up ground from 11th on the grid after a brake issue in qualifying, but had limited opportunities to pass the third Volvo of Nicky Catsburg.

Fellow Honda driver Esteban Guerrieri was allowed a couple of laps to attempt to pass Catsburg and help Michelisz through, but handed ninth back to his championship challenging teammate after failing to mount an attack.

Michelisz crossed the line 0.289s behind Catsburg, who in turn was within a second of seventh place finisher Rob Huff (Munnich Citroen).

Bjork needs only to maintain his starting position of fourth in Friday evening's main race to secure the drivers' crown.

Race results:

1 united_kingdom Tom Chilton  Citroën 10 laps
2 morocco Mehdi Bennani  Citroën 2.175
3 united_states Kevin Gleason  LADA 6.178
4 france John Filippi  Citroën 7.054
5 sweden Thed Björk  Volvo 7.571
6 france Yvan Muller  Volvo 7.945
7 united_kingdom Rob Huff  Citroën 8.577
8 netherlands Nicky Catsburg  Volvo 9.248
9 hungary Norbert Michelisz  Honda 9.537
10 argentina Esteban Guerrieri  Honda 10.304
11 netherlands Tom Coronel  Chevrolet 12.587
12 switzerland  Kris Richard  Chevrolet 12.995
13 france Yann Ehrlacher  LADA 13.857
14 japan Ryo Michigami  Honda 14.924
15 hungary Daniel Nagy  Honda 22.050
16 hungary Zsolt Szabo  Honda 27.132
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About this article
Series WTCC
Event Losail
Track Losail International Circuit
Drivers Tom Chilton , Thed Björk , Norbert Michelisz
Article type Race report