Ma writes motorsport history
On the opposite end of the scale of happiness, WTCC points leader José Maria López stalled on the grid and retired; the first time this season the Argentine driver does not score any points.
The works Honda cars, too, had a race to forget with both Gabriele Tarquini and Tiago Monteiro retiring for technical reasons while fighting for podium positions. Honda privateer Mehdi Bennani saved the day for the Japanese manufacturer by finishing in third.
Franz Engstler encored his victory in the TC2T class.
Grid – Pole sitter Valente’s car is not resting on its wheels at the 5-minute board, which means he will get a drive-through penalty.
Lap 1 – Ma misses his start and drops to 3rd behind Michelisz. Valente leads. López stalls on the grid and retires. Muller tries to make up ground but goes off after being hit from behind and rejoins in 9th.
Lap 2 – Ma and Michelisz fight a hard fight for 2nd. Huff and Kozlovskiy make contact and the Russian driver retires.
Lap 4 – Ma and Michelisz keep fighting hard, potentially for the lead as Valente still has to take his penalty. Loeb runs wide exiting Turn 1 and loses a place to Muller.
Lap 5 – The three Honda cars of Bennani, Tarquini and Monteiro and the Chevrolet of Chilton run nose to tail in 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th. Monteiro pushes Chilton and moves up a place.
Lap 6 – Muller passes Bennani and Monteiro going into Turn 2.
Lap 7 – Valente takes his penalty as Ma takes the lead. Morbidelli and Loeb swap paints on the front straight. Tarquini retires with a power steering problem.
Lap 8 – Muller takes 2nd from Michelisz at the end of the straight. Valente takes 10th from Münnich.
Lap 10 – Just 1.2 seconds cover Monteiro, Bennani, Coronel and Loeb in 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th.
Lap 11 – Huff retires, while Borković passes Thompson for 13th.
Lap 12 – Monteiro retires on the track.
Lap 14 – Loeb comes under attack from Chilton for 6th.
Lap 16 – Coronel hits Michelisz which allows Benanni to take 3rd. Coronel is 4th. Loeb and Chilton pass Michelisz in the last corner. Ma wins the race ahead of Muller.