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Bennani Takes Maiden Guia Circuit Victory

Mehdi Bennani clinched victory in the Opening Race for the Suncity Group Macau Guia Race – FIA WTCC, which ended early after a crash involving title contender Norbert Michelisz.

 

Sébastien Loeb Racing driver Bennani cantered away at the front of the field in his Citroën C-Elysée. He was two seconds clear of the ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 of Tom Coronel on the penultimate lap of the race before a red flag was shown after Michelisz blocked the road at Police bend after hitting the wall.

 

The Hungarian had negotiated his way from eighth on the grid to run fifth from lap two, and spent the following laps in the wheeltracks of championship rival Thed Björk's Volvo S60.

 

But at Police with a lap and a half to go, Michelisz appeared to clip the barrier on the inside of the corner and ran out into the barrier on the exit. That put his Honda Civic sideways and, after a hit from team-mate Esteban Guerrieri rotated his car further, blocked the road for those following.

 

The race was immediately suspended, and a subsequent message confirmed the race would not be restarted.

 

A two-lap countback was then applied to the result, meaning five of the scheduled eighth laps were classified.

 

Behind Bennani and Coronel, Ryo Michigami's reward for fending off Björk was a best result to date in the FIA WTCC in third. Michigami's podium is the first for a Japanese driver in the series.

 

The countback also meant Michelisz was classified in fifth, ahead of Guerrieri, while main race pole sitter Rob Huff (Münnich Motorsport Citroen C-Elysée) set a new fastest Guia Race lap record of 2m26.469 on his way to seventh. Tom Chilton followed Huff in the order in his similar SLR C-Elysée, while Nicky Catsburg and the RC Motorsport Lada Vesta of Kevin Gleason completed the top 10.

2017-11-18