Ma wins in first WTCC weekend

Sunday, 08 June 2014
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World Touring Car Championship newcomer Ma Qing Hua achieved a remarkable reversed-grid win on his first outing of 2014 at Moscow Raceway.

The former Caterham and HRT Friday practice Formula 1 driver held off a charging performance from teammate Yvan Muller to take victory by just 1.1sec, becoming the first Chinese driver to win in the WTCC.

After suffering a run of reliability troubles that has disrupted his progress over several race weekends earlier this season, Mehdi Bennani claimed his first podium of the season for Proteam Honda.

Polesitter Hugo Valente, who was an innocent party when he was harpooned out of race one by Campos teammate Dusan Borkovic, appeared in control in the early stages in his patched-up Cruze. But the Frenchman was handed a drive-through penalty owing to the failure of his team to secure a wheel before the five minute board was displayed.

In a furious fight at the front, Ma exchanged positions on at least three occasions with Norbert Michelisz at the final corner. The pair, second and third on the road, effectively disputed the lead owing to Valente's impending drive-through.

Citroen driver Ma had repeatedly marginally compromised his exit of the last turn, allowing fast-starter Michelisz the opportunity to counter attack, but on lap six Ma successfully secured the lead.

From fifth on the grid, Muller produced an aggressive drive and was in the thick of the action throughout. After running side-by side with teammate Sebastien Loeb at the first corner, Muller was sent sideways after receiving a tap – possibly from Bennani. Thereafter, Muller knuckled down to make progress from his opening lap position of ninth.

Muller gained one position when Tiago Monteiro knocked Tom Chilton sideways at Turn 3 and out of seventh, before bullying passed two Hondas in one maneuver on lap six.

The JAS Honda of Gabriele Tarquini retired with power steering problems, and teammate Tiago Monteiro was also forced to park prematurely with apparent technical trouble.

Muller demoted Michelisz from second on lap eight, but despite taking 2.3s out of Ma's lead, the Alsace racer had to be content with second. The result closes Muller to 41 points behind championship leader Jose Maria Lopez's 209-point tally in the drivers' standings.

Race one winner Lopez posted his first retirement of the season after suffering a gearbox-related problem on the grid.

Results - 16 laps

Pos Driver                Car                Time/Gap
 1. Ma Qing Hua           Citroen            27m11.31s
 2. Yvan Muller           Citroen            +1.261s
 3. Mehdi Bennani         Proteam Honda      +12.252s
 4. Tom Coronel           ROAL Chevrolet     +12.424s
 5. Sebastien Loeb        Citroen            +14.725s
 6. Tom Chilton           ROAL Chevrolet     +14.890s
 7. Norbert Michelisz     Zengo Honda        +15.118s
 8. Gianni Morbidelli     Munnich Chevrolet  +19.894s
 9. Hugo Valente          Campos Chevrolet   +20.157s
10. Rene Munnich          Munnich Chevrolet  +20.984s
11. Dusan Borkovic        Campos Chevrolet   +26.813s
12. James Thompson        Lada               +31.686s
13. Franz Engstler        Engstler BMW       +1m03.478s
14. Pasquale Di Sabatino  Engstler BMW       +1m15.84s3
15. John Filippi          Campos SEAT        -1 lap
16. Nikita Misiulia       Campos SEAT        -1 lap

Not classified/retirements

    Tiago Monteiro        Honda              11 laps
    Rob Huff              Lada               10 laps
    Gabriele Tarquini     Honda               7 laps
    Jose Maria Lopez      Citroen             0 laps
    Mikhail Kozlovskiy    Lada                0 laps 

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