Norbert Michelisz

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Yvan Muller scored his third victory of the season in the reverse-grid Race 2 of WTCR Race of China-Ningbo and leapt to the top of the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO points standings at Ningbo International Speedpark on Sunday.

Behind the YMR Hyundai i30 N TCR, there was action and incident down the field in a race you couldn’t take your eyes off.

Starting on the front row of the reverse-grid race, Muller made a great start to lead DHL Pole Position man Mehdi Bennani. The Sébastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR came under further pressure from ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport’s Yann Ehrlacher, but managed to fend off the Honda Civic Type R TCR to retain second place.

The jostling in the pack led to early casualties. Gabriele Tarquini effectively lost his WTCR OSCARO points lead by retiring to the pits at the end of lap 1 after smashing the front of his BRC Racing Team Hyundai, while Jean-Karl Vernay’s difficult weekend continued when his Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team RS 3 LMS was pushed out wide. He too retired to the pits with damage.

As Muller established his lead at the front from Bennani, ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport’s Esteban Guerrieri and Sébastien Loeb Racing’s Rob Huff engaged in a great duel for P6, behind the Comtoyou Audis of Frédéric Vervisch and Denis Dupont. On lap 2, Guerrieri got past Huff’s Golf, which allowed Race 1 winner Thed Björk to also slip by.

Ahead of them, a big fight developed between Ehrlacher and Vervisch for third. The Audi closed in on the Honda and twice made moves at Turn 2, first on the inside and then on the outside. On the penultimate lap it came to a head as the pair collided, which allowed Guerrieri past both to claim the final podium spot.

Dupont finished a superb fourth in his Audi, ahead of Huff – making it four racing brands in the top five after a hectic encounter.

Vervisch recovered to P6 ahead of Björk and Nathanaël Berthon, but there was further drama for Ehrlacher. On the final lap he was hit by Boutsen Ginion Racing’s Ma Qing Hua and was forced to stop out on the circuit with damage to his Honda. Back in the pits, Ehrlacher reported some pain in his neck after the impact.

Muller was delighted with his victory and new points lead. “Two races, two victories and now Thed is on pole for Race 3,” said the four-time World Touring Car Champion. “I hope it carries on like this.”

Race 3 of WTCR Race of China-Ningbo takes place at 15h40 local time.