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WTCC - Bennani and Tarquini are the night stars as emotional Muller signs off from WTCC duty


WTCC - 2016 Race of Qatar - Race 

FIA, Motorsport, Mobility, Road Safety, F1, WRC, WEC, WTCC, World RX

Mehdi Bennani beat Thed Björk to his first Main Race victory on a highly emotional night at WTCC DHL Race of Qatar as Yvan Muller signed off from his record-breaking FIA World Touring Car Championship career with two top-six finishes to secure the runner-up spot in the final points table. Elsewhere, Gabriele Tarquini won for LADA in the Opening Race, while Bennani’s triumph for Sébastien Loeb Racing gave Citroën win number 50 in the WTCC. Tarquini scooped the TAG Heuer Best Lap Trophy for his rapid time in the Opening Race. But it was a frustrating night for Tiago Monteiro, whose bid for second place in the end-of-term rankings faltered when he retired from the Opening Race following contact.


LADA’s Gabriele Tarquini scored a convincing 22nd win of his FIA World Touring Car Championship career in the Opening Race at WTCC DHL Race of Qatar. The Italian veteran, who is searching for an alternative drive beyond this evening as his current employer focuses its motorsport activities on domestic competition next year, used his experience to pass Tom Chilton at the first corner on a restart and then pulled away to win by five seconds. The race had to be red-flagged following a first-lap collision between Tiago Monteiro and José María López, which led to Honda driver Monteiro sustaining broken rear suspension. Hugo Valente was also caught up in the incident and had to pit for repairs. At the restart, polesitter Chilton defended the inside line from Tarquini but ran deep, enabling the LADA driver to get the lead. Taking the WTCC Trophy win, Chilton spent the rest of the race defending from Honda driver Rob Huff, who went from fifth to third with an attacking start. Yvan Muller claimed fourth ahead of Norbert Michelisz and the two Polestar Volvos of Thed Björk and Robert Dahlgren. Nicky Catsburg and López recovered to finish eighth and ninth, the Dutchman having lost ground on the first lap after contact from behind from Mehdi Bennani, who was handed a drive-through penalty and finished down in P16. James Thompson took P10 and second in the WTCC Trophy, just ahead of Hungarian youngster Dániel Nagy, who claimed his best WTCC finish to date.


Mehdi Bennani soaked up big pressure from Thed Björk to win the Main Race at WTCC DHL Race of Qatar, the final round of the 2016 FIA World Touring Car Championship. Starting from his maiden outright pole position, Bennani kept the lead at the start in front of José María López, who passed the Volvo of Björk. Behind that there was some fraught racing, with separate incidents between Tom Chilton and Robert Dahlgren and the LADA pair of Nicky Catsburg and Hugo Valente triggering a safety car. After the restart, Björk pulled off an impressing passing move on López and caught Bennani, looking to take a second win in as many events for Polestar Cyan Racing. The Moroccan kept the Swede at bay however with an error-free run to the chequered flag for his second win of the year in his Sébastien Loeb Racing-entered Citroën. López signed off from his multiple title-winning stint in the WTCC with Citroën with a podium finish in third. Norbert Michelisz passed Yvan Muller for fourth, which meant he was on course to beat Honda team-mate Tiago Monteiro to third in the championship. That was until Monteiro also found a way by Muller on the last lap to grab fifth, rewarding his Honda mechanics who did a great job to repair the Portuguese racer’s Civic after Opening Race damage. Muller finished his final race in the WTCC before his retirement in sixth ahead of Opening Race winner Gabriele Tarquini and Rob Huff. Tom Coronel and James Thompson took WTCC Trophy podiums behind winner Bennani.