Menu has kept his title hopes alive by winning Race 1

Chevrolet driver Alain Menu has held off persistent attacks from the BMW of Colin Turkington to claim his fifth win of the 2011 season and keep his slim championship hopes alive by finishing ahead of his team-mates Robert Huff and Yvan Muller, who completed the top-four finishers.

Huff’s third place means he trims the championship lead of Muller by a further two points.

Despite the circuit’s extremely tight first corner, the entire field managed to scramble through the first corner at the race’s rolling start, which pole-sitter Menu led from Huff and Turkington.

The tight track layout was largely suited to the BMWs – unless you were Norbert Michelisz (more on him later) – who were better able to put their power down exiting the slower corners.

And it was little surprise to see Turkington swarming all over the back of Huff in the opening laps as he set about trying to fulfil his pre-race prediction that he would win the race.

He tried a lunge on Huff during the fourth lap, but was aggressively held off by the Chevrolet driver. Ten laps later and with Huff’s tyres starting to go off, Turkington threw it up the inside at Turn 1, and gave Huff the choice of surrendering the position or some serious panel damage.

Almost instantly, Turkington closed down the gap to Menu, and the rest of the race saw an exciting battle for the lead. Ultimately, Turkington’s hopes of a final-lap pass were dashed when the pair came across the stranded Chevrolet of Yukinori Taniguchi, who crashed out on the back straight when his front suspension failed.

Huff took a comfortable third, ahead of Muller, who was the first in a sequence of drivers to overtake Norbert Michelisz, who started to rapidly tumble down the field as his rear brakes began to boil.

He lost two more places in rapid succession to Tom Coronel and Kristian Poulsen, his main rival in the Independent Trophy standings. Ultimately, the Hungarian finished a disappointing eleventh.

Mehdi Bennani (Proteam BMW) showed his morning warm-up speed was no fluke with a strong drive to finish seventh, while Tiago Monteiro was the only SUNRED driver to finish in the points, as the Spanish outfit struggled with tyre wear problems, being unable to put the power down exiting the slow corners.

 

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2011 FIA WTCC Race of China Final Classification (Race 1 – 25 laps):

Driver Team Result
1. Alain Menu SUI RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 28:05.718
2. Colin Turkington GBR Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC BMW + 1.222
3. Robert Huff GBR RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 5.065
4. Yvan Muller FRA RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 8.005
5. Tom Coronel NED ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW + 9.010
6. Kristian Poulsen DEN Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW 320TC BMW + 9.921
7. Mehdi Bennani MOR Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW + 15.487
8. Tiago Monteiro POR SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred + 22.630
9. Robert Dahlgren SWE Polestar Volvo C30 1.6T ‘Drive’ Volvo + 26.204
10. Javier Villa García ESP Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW + 27.118
11. Norbert Michelisz HUN Zengõ-Dension Team BMW 320TC BMW + 28.291
12. Franz Engstler DEU Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW 320TC BMW + 28.539
13. Darryl O’Young HKG Bamboo Engineering Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 38.072
14. Michel Nykjær DEN SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred + 53.157
15. Aleksei Dudukalo RUS Lukoil-SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred + 59.011
16. Charles Ka-Ki Ng HKG DeTeam KK Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW + 1:11.155
17. Pepe Oriola ESP SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred 1 lap behind
18. Fabio Fabiani ITA Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW 320si BMW 1 lap behind
19. Philip Ma HKG Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si BMW 1 lap behind
20. Yukinori Taniguchi JPN Bamboo Engineering Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 2 laps behind
21. Fredy Barth SUI Swiss Racing SR León 1.6T Sunred 4 laps behind
           
  NOT CLASSIFIED        
NCF. Gabriele Tarquini ITA Lukoil-SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred 10 laps behind
           
FASTEST LAP
  Robert Huff GBR RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:06.333

[Original images via FIA WTCC Media]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.

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