Yvan Muller has extended his championship lead with his Race 2 win

Defending WTCC title-holder Yvan Muller has claimed a dominant win in the second race of the championship’s adventures at the tight and twisty Tianma Circuit in China, with the Frenchman extending his points lead over team-mate and closest rival Robert Huff to a 20-point margin.

Starting from fourth place for this race’s standing start, the two-time champion gained a place on the short sprint into Turn 1, and then picked up another spot courtesy of a bit of opening lap biff-and-barge between Gabriele Tarquini and Huff, passing the latter for second place.

With the SUNRED cars expected to struggle in Race 2 as they did in Race 1, it was simply a matter of time before Muller got by Tarquini, and once he was ahead, he eased away to win by over 10 seconds. The win gives the Frenchman a 20-point buffer of his nearest title rival Huff, with just the season-ending pair of races at Macau to come.

By contrast, Huff’s hard work in Race 1 (where he gained two points over Muller by finishing third to his team-mate’s fourth) was undone courtesy of his ragged first lap contretemps with Tarquini.

The Italian is well-known for his robust defence, and while he’s never been in the championship hunt this year, he equally had every right to make his rivals’ tasks of getting by him as difficult as he wanted.

Eager to try and build himself a margin over Muller, Huff tried to get by Tarquini on the opening lap, but the Italian’s famous defensive driving saw Huff bumped off the circuit, where he proceeded to bounce along the infield before rejoining the circuit.

The underside of his car now damaged, Huff could do little more than follow in Tarquini’s wheeltracks for the rest of the race to finish a frustrating third, while Muller skipped ahead.

Tarquini did well to finish second Tarquini soldiered on to finish in second place, doing well to keep a long train of cars behind him for the rest of the race. Behind Huff, the chasing cars included Tom Coronel (ROAL BMW), Colin Turkington (Wiechers BMW), Kristian Poulsen (Engstler BMW) and Alain Menu (RML Chevrolet), while Franz Engstler rapidly closed up to the back of the group in the final laps.

Turkington managed to get by Coronel at the start of the final lap to finish fourth, while Race 1 victor Menu claimed sixth, although Muller’s win officially put him out of title contention.

Sixth place went to Independent Trophy leader Poulsen, who held off his team-mate Engstler by just 0.3 seconds – the Dane now holds a 23-point lead in the Trophy standings from Norbert Michelisz, who failed to score after being tapped into a spin on the opening lap.

Charles Ng picked up his first WTCC points' finishThe final two points positions went to Robert Dahlgren in the Volvo, while WTCC rookie Charles Ng claimed his first points’ finish in tenth, after starting from the back of the grid.

Tarquini aside, the SUNRED cars again had shocking races. Tiago Monteiro found himself caught up in the Michelisz first-lap carnage, while Fredy Barth tumbled down the order to finish 12th, despite starting third. Pepe Oriola ran in the top-ten, but his tyres fell away and he finished 13th, one spot ahead of fellow SUNRED rider Michel Nykjær.

The championship now heads to Macau at the end of the month, where a huge grid of drivers will compete for honours. But all eyes will be on the title fight at the front of the field between Muller and Huff. With just 50 points up for grabs, Huff has a lot of work to do…



2011 FIA WTCC Race of China Final Classification (Race 2 – 25 laps):

Driver Team Result
1. Yvan Muller FRA RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 28:19.599
2. Gabriele Tarquini ITA Lukoil-SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred + 10.518
3. Robert Huff GBR RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 11.385
4. Colin Turkington GBR Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC BMW + 11.812
5. Tom Coronel NED ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW + 12.140
6. Alain Menu SUI RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 12.896
7. Kristian Poulsen DEN Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW 320TC BMW + 13.336
8. Franz Engstler DEU Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW 320TC BMW + 13.612
9. Robert Dahlgren SWE Polestar Volvo C30 1.6T ‘Drive’ Volvo + 22.279
10. Charles Ka-Ki Ng HKG DeTeam KK Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW + 24.172
11. Mehdi Bennani MOR Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW + 33.725
12. Fredy Barth SUI Swiss Racing SR León 1.6T Sunred + 36.977
13. Pepe Oriola ESP SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred + 43.090
14. Michel Nykjær DEN SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred + 46.761
15. Fabio Fabiani ITA Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW 320si BMW 1 lap behind
16. Philip Ma HKG Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si BMW 1 lap behind
17. Aleksei Dudukalo RUS Lukoil-SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred 2 laps behind
DNF. Darryl O’Young HKG Bamboo Engineering Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 2 laps
DNF. Tiago Monteiro POR SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred 1 lap
DNF. Norbert Michelisz HUN Zengõ-Dension Team BMW 320TC BMW 1 lap
DNF. Javier Villa García ESP Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW 0 laps
DNS. Yukinori Taniguchi JPN Bamboo Engineering Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet did not start
  Yvan Muller FRA RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:06.080

[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.