Vila Real: Mehdi Bennani is ready for a new street challenge

The Moroccan driver and Alsace-based team wish once again to show how fast they can go.

Last week, on the Paul Ricard circuit, Mehdi Bennani and the Sébastien Loeb Racing embarked on the second part of the season in the World Touring Car Championship. Quite a positive start overall with two Top 10, a pole position and one of the fastest paces during Race 2. For the last European round scheduled on the competition’s calendar, taking place on Vila Real urban track which will be hosting the competition for the first time, the Moroccan driver and Alsace-based team wish once again to show how fast they can go.

I like street races

Mehdi Bennani

Mehdi Bennani enjoys urban tracks as he demonstrated in Marrakech with a first row in the qualifying, a fourth-place finish overall and a win as part of the Yokohama Trophy. It will be a completely different challenge this time, as Vila Real is a new track. “The circuit is said to be fast, we’ll all be discovering it” says Mehdi. “I like street races and I’m fully confident the team will quickly work out the right settings.

We got some good sensations again in Le Castellet and we performed at an interesting level, actually close to the best contenders. We could have obtained an excellent result, but in trying to do even better, I actually ended up making a mistake. I’ll learn from that experience and will improve from it. We’re there, ready and focused. Whether we’ll achieve something good or not? That’s what we’re aiming for anyway.”

While the Sébastien Loeb Racing is currently at the heart of its first full programme in the World Touring Car Championship, it is also Mehdi Bennani’s first season at the wheel of the Citroën C-Elysée. Seven rounds in, this duet gathering both the French squad and the Moroccan driver continues on getting its bearings race after race. With one goal in mind, to settle within the front of the race. “We’ve gone through a down moment and we’re honest enough to admit it” confides Mehdi.

“We shouldn’t neither underestimate the level of the championship nor forget that assembling all parts of a jigsaw puzzle takes time. We know what we want to achieve and how we can get there. We want to compete amongst the best contenders and that’s when the smallest details all come into play. We’ve been waiting long but shouldn’t rush anything. We need to put up with the pressure that’s on our shoulders and that shouldn’t stand as an obstacle. It’s actually another source of motivation to show that ‘there we are’, always ready to go for it.”

Currently five points away from the Top 10 overall, Mehdi Bennani is ranked third in the Yokohama Trophy – for Independent drivers only.

The Sébastien Loeb Racing, which also brings operational support to Ma Qing Hua’s car entered by Citroën Racing, has a very good memory of its latest visit to Portugal; as last October, in a completely different context, Dominique Heintz and Sébastien Loeb’s squad won the 4 Hours of Estoril as part of the European Le Mans Series.

Sébastien Loeb Racing

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About this article
Series WTCC
Event Vila Real
Track Circuito Internacional de Vila Real
Drivers Mehdi Bennani
Teams Sébastien Loeb Racing
Article type Preview