WTCR Race of China 2019 - 13-15/09/2019

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). Around 500 people were involved in turning what was a disused quarry into a state-of-the-art venue, which is built to FIA and FIM Grade 2 standards. It runs in an anti-clockwise direction, is between 12-18 metres in width and features 21 turns.

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 presented by OSCARO.

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 / OSCARO 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.

DHL Pole Position Race 1: 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
DHL Pole Position Race 2: Andy Priaulx (GBR) Lynk & Co 03 TCR
Race 2 winner: Yvan Muller (FRA) Hyundai i30 N TCR
Race 2 fastest lap: Daniel Haglöf (SWE) Cupra TCR
DHL Pole Position Race 3: Yvan Muller (FRA) Lynk & Co 03 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

Track essentials
Name: 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: 13 laps (52.130 kilometres)
Race 3 distance: 16 laps (64.160 kilometres)
Best laps
WTCR lap record (qualifying): Thed Björk (Hyundai i30 N TCR), 1m50.371s (130.70kph), 30/09/18
WTCR lap record (race): Thed Björk (Hyundai i30 N TCR), 1m51.640s (129.30kph), 30/09/18
More details
Time zone: GMT +8 hours
Fly to: Ningbo Lishe International Airport (64 kilometres)
Stay: Ningbo