Sébastien Loeb Racing driver Mehdi Bennani has become the World Touring Car Championship’s fifth different race-winner in its opening six races by claiming victory in Sunday afternoon’s Main Race at the Hungaroring.

The Moroccan got the jump on polesitter Rob Huff as the lights went out, out-dragging his fellow Citroën driver on the run to the first corner. Huff fell to fourth place behind the Volvos of Néstor Girolami and Nicky Catsburg.

The race was almost immediately neutralised by a Safety Car on the opening lap, triggered by Girolami and Catsburg coming together at Turn 2 which led to the retirement of the former with broken steering.

Replays showed that Catsburg was helped into the side of his teammate thanks to a nudge at the rear by Huff, putting the Münnich Motorsport driver at risk of a potential penalty.

When the race resumed, Bennani was overtaken by Huff with a fine passing move at Turn 9, but the position change ultimately proved academic as the Englishman was soon handed a drive-through penalty for his opening-lap contact.

Bennani resumed in the lead when Huff peeled into the pits at the end of Lap 4, and thereafter managed the gap back to Catsburg over the remainder of the race to claim his first race win since the season finale at Qatar last year.

Catsburg managed to close in on Bennani in the final laps, but with his Polestar Cyan Racing saddled with 80kg of compensation ballast compared to Bennani’s 60kg load, overtaking was going to be a tough ask. The pair crossed the finish line just under seven-tenths of a second apart.

Bennani’s teammate Tom Chilton completed the podium to assume the lead of the WTCC Trophy standings for privateers, denying crowd favourite Norbert Michelisz a podium on home soil.

Behind Michelisz came his Honda teammate Tiago Monteiro, who consolidated his overall lead in the Drivers’ Championship standings in the wake of his victory in the day’s Opening Race.

While Monteiro gained spots relative to his ninth-placed starting position, the reverse happened to one of Saturday’s qualifying stars, Esteban Guerrieri. The Argentine claimed an outstanding third-fastest in his venerable Campos Racing Chevrolet, but suffered a poor start and crossed the line in seventh place ahead of Volvo’s Thed Björk.

Series rookie Yann Ehrlacher had a rather lonely run to eighth ahead of ROAL Motorsport’s Tom Coronel, with Huff recovering from his drive-through penalty to claim the final point in tenth.

Next up, the WTCC field stages its highest-profile round of the season at the historic Nürburgring Nordschleife on May 27.

2017 FIA WTCC JVC Kenwood Race of Hungary – Main Race Final Classification (17 laps)
Driver Team Result Cat
1. Mehdi Bennani Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée 33:21.822 IND
2. Nick Catsburg Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo S60 TC1 volvo + 0.654 MF
3. Tom Chilton Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée + 3.553 IND
4. Norbert Michelisz Castrol Honda WTCC Team Civic WTCC + 7.309 MF
5. Tiago Monteiro Castrol Honda WTCC Team Civic WTCC + 9.532 MF
6. Esteban Guerrieri Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze + 10.875 IND
7. Thed Björk Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo S60 TC1 volvo + 11.865 MF
8. Yann Ehrlacher RC Motorsport LADA Vesta WTCC + 14.547 IND
9. Tom Coronel ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze + 20.783 IND
10. Rob Huff Münnich Motorsport Citroën C-Elysée + 21.212 IND
11. John Filippi Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée + 28.110 IND
12. Kevin Gleason RC Motorsport LADA Vesta WTCC + 31.760 IND
13. Ryo Michigami Honda Racing Team JAS Civic WTCC + 36.852 MF
14. Aurélien Panis Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC + 51.021 IND
Not Classified Team Result Cat
DNF. Dániel Nagy Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC Mechanical IND
DNF. Néstor Girolami Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo S60 TC1 volvo Collision MF

* Post-Race Penalties:

  • None

Image 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.