Alain Menu has claimed victory in an incident-filled opening World Touring Car Championship race at the Shanghai International Circuit.
The Swiss driver led home Chevrolet team-mate Robert Huff, who now takes the championship lead after championship leader Yvan Muller was a first-lap retiree after he was taken out on a fraught opening lap of the race.
Muller’s issues began when he tried to overtake polesitter Menu around the outside of Turn 1 at the start of the race, only for the pair to make mild contact as the pack funneled around the long right-hander.
Under braking for Turn 2, Muller found himself tapped into a spin by Norbert Michelisz, and as he tried to recover his slide, he triggered a concertina reaction that saw Colin Turkington, Darryl O’Young, Alex MacDowell, and Pepe Oriola all sustain damage.
The contact led to the retirements of all but Turkington, who dropped to twentieth place before staging an aggressive charge through the field to cross the finish line in eighth place.
The opening lap contretemps saw much of the field completely reshuffled. Stefano D’Aste – winner last time out at Suzuka – was promoted to third place, and finished the race unchallenged to claim an important Independent Trophy class victory, ahead of Tom Coronel and Gabriele Tarquini.
Tom Boardman was another beneficiary in the opening lap shenanigans, but it later emerged that he – along with seventh-placed Tiago Monteiro, tenth-placed Fredy Barth, fifteenth-placed Hugo Valente and James Nash (who retired after contact with Fernando Monje) – had benefitted from cutting the opening corner complex trying to avoid the first-lap carnage. The FIA Stewards has no choice but to issue all with post-race thirty-second time penalties.
The readjustment promoted Turkington to sixth place, while the likes of Alberto Cerqui, Mehdi Bennani, Franz Engstler and Charles Ng rounded out the points-paying positions.
2012 FIA WTCC Race of China – Race 1 Final Classification (13 laps):
|1.||Alain Menu||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||25:12.369|
|2.||Robert Huff||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 1.500|
|3.||Stefano D’Aste||Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC||+ 11.192||Y|
|4.||Tom Coronel||ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC||+ 13.327|
|5.||Gabriele Tarquini||Lukoil Racing SEAT León WTCC||+ 15.653|
|6.||Colin Turkington||WSR Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 30.125|
|7.||Alberto Cerqui||ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC||+ 31.463||Y|
|8.||Mehdi Bennani||Proteam Racing BMW 320TC||+ 40.183||Y|
|9.||Franz Engstler||Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC||+ 40.320||Y|
|10.||Charles Ka-Ki Ng||Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC||+ 44.499||Y|
|11.||Tom Chilton||Team Aon Ford Focus S2000 TC||+ 46.076|
|12.||Tom Boardman*||Special Tune Racing SEAT León WTCC||+ 56.382||Y|
|13.||Tiago Monteiro*||JAS Honda Civic S2000 TC||+ 1:00.032|
|14.||Fredy Barth*||Swiss Racing SEAT León WTCC||+ 1:06.426||Y|
|15.||Norbert Michelisz||Zengõ Motorsport BMW 320TC||+ 1:07.550||Y|
|16.||Hugo Valente||Tuenti Racing SR León 1.6T||+ 1:17.406||Y|
|17.||Kelvin Leong||Song Veng Honda Accord Euro R||+ 1:21.551||Y|
|18.||Eric Kwong||Look Fong Racing Chevrolet Cruze LT||+ 1:25.129||Y|
|19.||Filipe de Souza||China Dragon Chevrolet Lacetti||+ 1:27.186||Y|
|20.||Kin Veng Ng||China Dragon Chevrolet Lacetti||+ 1:37.603||Y|
|21.||Alex Liu Lic Ka||Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320si||+ 1 lap||Y|
|22.||Pepe Oriola||Tuenti Racing Team SEAT León WTCC||+ 4 laps||Y|
|NF.||Fernando Monje||SUNRED Engineering SEAT León WTCC||8 laps||Y|
|NF.||Darryl O’Young||Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||7 laps||Y|
|NF.||James Nash||Team Aon Ford Focus S2000 TC||6 laps|
|NC.||Aleksei Dudukalo||Lukoil Racing SEAT León WTCC||6 laps||Y|
|NC.||Alex MacDowell||Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||4 laps||Y|
|NF.||Yvan Muller||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||1 lap|
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