Ningbo WTCR: Bjork wins Race 3 as Muller retires

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Ningbo WTCR: Bjork wins Race 3 as Muller retires
By: Jack Cozens
Sep 30, 2018, 8:58 AM

Thed Bjork claimed his second win of the World Touring Car Cup weekend at Ningbo, completing a clean sweep at the Chinese circuit for the YMR Hyundai team.

Having secured another qualifying pole in Sunday morning's session, Bjork was again in command at the start of the race after successfully beating the BRC Hyundais of Norbert Michelisz and Gabriele Tarquini off the line.

Bjork had established a comfortable 2.792-second lead over Tarquini when the race was red flagged with nine laps completed, to allow repairs to be made to kerbs at the Turn 15/16 left-right at the back end of the circuit.

With a tyre stack put in place at Turn 16, the field completed one lap behind the safety car before racing resumed on lap 11.

Bjork was quick to establish a one-second gap back to Tarquini, and eased away - with Tarquini pursued by the Comtoyou Audi of Denis Dupont - to win, hoisting himself fully into title contention after teammate Yvan Muller retired.

Muller's race was a scrappy one, but he had sat in eighth until he slowed and returned to the pits a lap before the red flag.

Tarquini had no answer to Bjork's pace, but with second has returned to the lead of the drivers' standings after his own retirement in race two allowed Muller ahead.

The Italian now has an eight-point advantage over Bjork - who started the weekend sixth overall - with Muller a further point back.

Behind Tarquini, Dupont bettered the fourth place he achieved in race two to land a maiden WTCR podium, while his Comtoyou teammate Frederic Vervisch completed two late passes after the red flag to claim fourth.

The second BRC Hyundai of Michelisz came home a subdued fifth ahead of Rob Huff, who clung on to sixth despite a train of cars breathing down the Sebastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen driver's neck in the closing stages.

Pepe Oriola (Campos Racing Cupra) was the leader among that pack, crossing the line ahead of Nathanael Berthon - who briefly got ahead of Huff only to slide off and drop back into the pack.

Aurelien Panis's ninth place meant all four Comtoyou Audis finished in the points, and race two runner-up Mehdi Bennani secured 10th.

Esteban Guerrieri, who had scored podiums in the weekend's first two races, passed Michelisz for second at the Turn 11 hairpin on the opening lap but made contact with the Hyundai while doing so, and slowed on the subsequent straight with a suspected suspension issue.

Results:

Cla # Driver Car Gap
1 11 Sweden Thed Björk  Hyundai  
2 30 Italy Gabriele Tarquini  Hyundai 1.928
3 20 Belgium Denis Dupont  Audi 4.020
4 22 Belgium Frederic Vervisch  Audi 7.235
5 5 Hungary Norbert Michelisz  Hyundai 8.855
6 12 United Kingdom Rob Huff  Volkswagen 10.572
7 74 Spain Pepe Oriola  Seat 11.061
8 23 France Nathanael Berthon  Audi 12.118
9 21 France Aurelien Panis  Audi 12.871
10 25 Morocco Mehdi Bennani  Volkswagen 13.737
11 42 Germany Timo Scheider  Honda 14.229
12 69 France Jean-Karl Vernay  Audi 14.678
13 52 United Kingdom Gordon Shedden  Audi 15.620
14 31 Italy Kevin Ceccon  Alfa Romeo 19.862
15 8 Hungary Norbert Nagy  Seat 20.316
16 7 France Aurélien Comte  Peugeot 21.229
17 9 Netherlands Tom Coronel  Honda 23.155
18 70 Slovakia Mato Homola  Peugeot 25.605
19 68 France Yann Ehrlacher  Honda 26.370
20 27 France John Filippi  Seat 1 Lap
21 66 Hungary Zsolt Szabo  Seat 1 Lap
  48 France Yvan Muller  Hyundai 9 Laps
  88 Italy Fabrizio Giovanardi  Alfa Romeo 15 Laps
  86 Argentina Esteban Guerrieri  Honda 16 Laps
  55 Ma Quinghua  Honda  
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About this article

Series WTCR
Event Ningbo
Drivers Thed Björk
Author Jack Cozens
Article type Race report