WTCR Race of China 2021 - 06-07/11/2021
In 100 words: Located in Chunxiao in the rapidly-expanding Beilun coastal development near Ningbo − a major port and industrial city with a population of more than seven million − in Zhejiang province, the track opened in time for WTCC Race of China in October 2017 following more than a year of construction work at a cost of 950-million CNY (122 million euros). It runs in an anti-clockwise direction, is between 12-18 metres in width and features 22 turns. Esteban Guerrieri and Néstor Girolami shared the wins in 2017, before Thed Björk took a victory in 2018 to mark the arrival of WTCR.
WTCR RACE OF CHINA 2019: THE WEEKEND’S BIG WINNERS
DHL Pole Position Race 1: Yvan Muller (FRA) Lynk & Co 03 TCR
DHL Pole Position Race 2: Andy Priaulx (GBR) Lynk & Co 03 TCR
DHL Pole Position Race 3: Yvan Muller (FRA) Lynk & Co 03 TCR
Race 1 winner: Yvan Muller (FRA) Lynk & Co 03 TCR
Race 1 fastest lap: Aurélien Panis (FRA) Cupra TCR
Race 2 winner: Yvan Muller (FRA) Hyundai i30 N TCR
Race 2 fastest lap: Daniel Haglöf (SWE) Cupra TCR
Race 3 winner: Yvan Muller (FRA) Lynk & Co 03 TCR
Race 3 fastest lap: Gabriele Tarquini (ITA) Hyundai i30 N TCR
TAG Heuer Best Lap Trophy: Daniel Haglöf (SWE) Cupra TCR
TAG Heuer Most Valuable Driver: Yvan Muller (FRA) Lynk & Co 03 TCR
RACE REPORT: MULLER IS MAGIC FOR LYNK & CO IN CHINA AS WTCR TITLE BATTLE INTENSIFIES
*Cyan Racing Lynk & Co driver takes win double at Chinese brand’s home track
*Michelisz leads on the #RoadToMalaysia following Race 2 triumph
*Home hero Ma second on Saturday but denied in Sunday qualifying clash
*Azcona, Ehrlacher and Tarquini also visit podium during action-packed weekend
Yvan Muller scored a win double for Lynk & Co on home soil to move firmly into the fight for the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup.
After winning Race 1 on Saturday, Cyan Racing-run Muller beat nephew and fellow Lynk & Co-powered driver Yann Ehrlacher to the victory in Race 3. And by finishing third in Race 2, Muller set a record for the most points scored in a single WTCR weekend with an impressive haul of 76 to make him the TAG Heuer Most Valuable Driver. He’s one point down on Esteban Guerrieri (ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport) on the #RoadToMalaysia and 17 behind new leader Norbert Michelisz (BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse).
Team Mulsanne’s Ma Qinghua finished second to Muller in Race 1 but was denied a shot at more success on Sunday. After going fastest in Second Qualifying Q1, Ma was on a flying lap nearing the end of Q2 when he encountered a visibly slower Néstor Girolami.
Anxious not to lose time, Ma attempted to pass at the chicane only for Girolami to hold his line. There was contact, Ma spun out and the session was red flagged with the Alfa Romeo stranded. With no time left to improve his position, Ma was eliminated as Girolami progressed to Q3, although the Argentine was later penalised. After contact put him out of Race 2, Ma started Race 3 from the pitlane and had fought his way up to ninth position only to stop with more damage.
Norbert Michelisz beat his BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse team-mate Gabriele Tarquini to the Race 2 victory with Tarquini adding a second podium with third in Race 3. Michelisz thought he’d secured the reverse-grid DHL Pole Position for Race 2 only for Girolami’s demotion to promote Andy Priaulx into the all-important P10 instead.
Priaulx led relatively comfortably for several laps before he became embroiled in a titanic scrap with his Hungarian rival, which ended with hefty contact between the pair, one of several incidents in a hectic second race, after Priaulx’s Lynk & Co picked up a puncture and slowed suddenly.
Michelisz had earlier taken fourth in Race 1 ahead of Nicky Catsburg and Aurélien Panis. After retiring from Race 2, Panis took up his career-best second-row start in Race 3 to finish sixth behind Augusto Farfus and Thed Björk – who was fourth in Race 2 – after several hits dropped him back.
PWR Racing CUPRA driver Mikel Azcona was the best of nine Ningbo rookies with third in Race 1, while team-mate and joint team owner Daniel Haglöf was fifth in Race 2 and the winner of the TAG Heuer Best Lap Trophy. Attila Tassi took sixth for the Honda-powered KCMG in Race 2, while team-mate Tiago Monteiro crashed heavily in Race 3 following contact with Mehdi Bennani’s Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR, albeit without injury.
RACE WINNER QUOTES
Race 1: Yvan Muller (Cyan Racing Lynk & Co), Lynk & Co 03 TCR
“It was very intense because I knew at the end of the race it would be complicated with our car because our car is heavy, so we are harder on the tyres. I was looking after the tyres all the way through. But at one point during the race I asked my engineer how many laps were left, and he told me six. I though oh shit, that will be long! And it was long, very long, even until the end and the last sector, but I was defending. Anything could happen. If there was one race to win this year it would have been this one because we are in China, driving a Chinese car and Geely Group are 10 minutes away from here. So, this was the race to win.”
Race 2: Norbert Michelisz (BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse), Hyundai i30 N TCR
“I was really in a position to overtake Andy at least two times. I was kind to him and then he puts a move like that. I don’t know what he was up to but to brake 150-200 metres before the corner with the energy he did that could not result in anything but a big crash and for me the fact they took this into account is a bit bad, it’s difficult to say. In the end I’m happy with the win and that the car survived the race because it had big damage. It was very difficult, I was very lucky to survive. You can see the left-front is totally destroyed, my right [tyre] is totally destroyed because I had to jump on the brakes. But I hope the guys will fix it for Race 3. After the last race can we talk about the standings.”
Race 3: Yvan Muller (Cyan Racing Lynk & Co), Lynk & Co 03 TCR
“I was already very satisfied yesterday with the pole and the victory. That was already enough to give me enough pleasure. This morning we were able to confirm the pole position, that was another satisfaction. Then Race 2, I was pleased to be P7 and my friends helped me to reach the podium, so that was another satisfaction! And then best was Race 3 with victory and with Yann and Gebriele. It’s probably the oldest podium of the year. A fantastic weekend, of course.”
Race 1: Yvan Muller (FRA) Lynk & Co 03 TCR
Race 2: Norbert Michelisz (HUN) Hyundai i30 N TCR
Race 3: Yvan Muller (FRA) Lynk & Co 03 TCR
Race 1: Thed Björk (SWE) Hyundai i30 N TCR
Race 2: Yvan Muller (FRA) Hyundai i30 N TCR
Race 3: Thed Björk (SWE) Hyundai i30 N TCR
ESSENTIALSName: Ningbo International Speedpark
Location: Yanhai Middle Road, Chuanxiao, Ningbo, Zhejiang, China
Length: 4.010 kilometres
Race 1 distance: 13 laps (52.130 kilometres)
Race 2 distance: 16 laps (64.160 kilometres)
BEST LAPSWTCR lap record (qualifying): Yvan Muller (Lynk & Co 03 TCR), 1m50.135s (130.10kph), 15/09/19
WTCR lap record (race): Thed Björk (Hyundai i30 N TCR), 1m51.640s (129.30kph), 30/09/18
MORE DETAILSTime zone: GMT +8 hours
Fly to: Ningbo Lishe International Airport (64 kilometres)