Gordon Shedden finally broke his duck by claiming his first FIA World Touring Car Cup win in the third and final race of the weekend’s round at Wuhan.
The Team WRT driver looked in doubt to even be able to make the start of the race as his mechanics scrambled to repair his Audi RS 3 LMS after he suffered badly damaged steering in an opening-lap accident in Race 2. He made it out of the pits with minutes to spare and was able to start the race from pole position.
It almost looked as though his run of poor luck would continue after the start. Having converted his pole position into the lead, he was tapped in to a slide by the sister Audi of Comtoyou Racing’s Denis Dupont.
The contact caused the chasing field to bunch up, forcing the Münnich Motorsport Honda of Esteban Guerrieri to shortcut the Turn 1/2 chicane. The Argentine driver made little attempt to rejoin the circuit without gaining an advantage and leaped up to second place behind Sheddedn, with Dupont and teammate Frédéric Vervisch running third and fourth.
A sequence of hip and shoulder moves among the jostling midfield pack claimed a number of victims when Shedden’s teammate and Saturday race-winner Jean-Karl Vernay squeezed the DG Sport Peugeot of Aurélien Comte into the wall at Turn 6.
Comte, who had so nearly won the day’s earlier Race in a tense fight with eventual winner Mehdi Bennani, went nose-first into the barriers and was collected by the unsighted Sébastien Loeb Racing VW of Rob Huff, who was in turn struck by the Münnich Honda of Timo Scheider. Also caught up the incident and suffering race-ending damage was Comte’s teammate Mat’o Homola and Fabrizio Giovanardi’s Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo.
With Comte, Homola and Huff’s damaged cars stranded on the circuit, the race was suspended for seven laps behind the Safety Car. During this time, the stewards ruled that Guerrieri had gained an advantage from cutting the Turn 1/2 chicane after the start and ordered him to redress by dropping behind Dupont and Vervisch.
Once the race was resumed, Vernay was issued with a drive-through penalty for causing the multi-car carnage on Lap 1, dropping the Frenchman out of contention for another points finish.
Shedden continued to lead from Dupont and Vervisch after the restart, but on Lap 10 Dupont lost control of his Audi under braking for Turn 10 and hit the tyre stack placed at the apex of the right-hander. That was catapulted into the rear of Shedden’s car, although he was able to continue despite the assault and damage his car had sustained.
Vervisch took the opportunity to sneak ahead into second place in the melee before the Safety Car was called back into action so the tyre stack could be moved back into position.
With Dupont’s car unsurprisingly nursing some damage, the Belgian youngster dropped back from the leading duo but still held on to third place to claim back-to-back Race 3 podiums.
Fourth place went to a frustrated Guerrieri, who spent much of the race trailing sparks caused by his Honda’s exhaust having become partially detached. He was chased hard in the final laps by Comtoyou’s Nathanaël Berthon, who overtook Pepe Oriola’s Campos Racing Cupra shortly after the second restart.
Local driver Ma Qing Hua finished seventh to claim his first points’ finish in his return to touring car racing, while eighth-placed Kevin Ceccon claimed another points’ finish in his Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo. Race 2 winner Mehdi Bennani finished ninth in the sole remaining SLR Volkswagen Golf GTI.
Championship frontrunner Thed Björk claimed tenth and the final point on offer to move him into equal-second place in the Drivers’ Championship standings; he and teammate Yvan Muller both sit seven points behind outright leader Gabriele Tarquini (BRC Racing Team Hyundai).
The ever-consistent Oriola – who has failed two score points in just two of the last eighteen races – moves into fourth overall in the points’ standings, a further 27 points adrift.
The penultimate round of the 2018 FIA World Touring Cart Cup takes place on October 27-28 at the Suzuka Circuit in Japan.
|2018 FIA World Touring Car Cup Race of China Wuhan – Race 3 Final Classification (23 laps)|
|1.||Gordon Shedden||Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team||23||40:35.882||30|
|2.||Frédéric Vervisch||Audi Sport Team Comtoyou||23||+ 0.558||23|
|3.||Denis Dupont||Comtoyou Racing||23||+ 4.460||19|
|4.||Esteban Guerrieri||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||23||+ 8.475||16|
|5.||Nathanaël Berthon||Comtoyou Racing||23||+ 8.813||13|
|6.||Pepe Oriola||Team OSCARO by Campos Racing||23||+ 9.827||10|
|7.||Ma Qing Hua||Boutsen Ginion Racing||23||+ 11.047||7|
|8.||Kevin Ceccon||Mulsanne SRL||23||+ 11.296||4|
|9.||Mehdi Bennani||Sébastien Loeb Racing||23||+ 12.304||2|
|10.||Thed Björk||MRacing – YMR||23||+ 13.905||1|
|11.||Aurélien Panis||Comtoyou Racing||23||+ 14.627|
|12.||Yann Ehrlacher||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||23||+ 15.402|
|13.||Gabriele Tarquini||BRC Racing Team||23||+ 15.928|
|14.||Norbert Michelisz||BRC Racing Team||23||+ 21.125|
|15.||Jean-Karl Vernay||Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team||23||+ 24.642|
|16.||Norbert Nagy||Zengõ Motorsport||23||+ 29.783|
|17.||Tom Coronel||Boutsen Ginion Racing||18||Mechanical|
|DNF.||Yvan Muller||MRacing – YMR||14||Engine|
|DNF.||Fabrizio Giovanardi||Mulsanne SRL||14||Damage|
|DNF.||Timo Scheider||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||1||Collision|
|DNF.||Zsolt Dávid Szabó||Zengõ Motorsport||1||Collision|
|DNF.||Aurélien Comte||DG Sport Compétition||0||Collision|
|DNF.||Rob Huff||Sébastien Loeb Racing||0||Collision|
|DNF.||Mat’o Homola||DG Sport Compétition||0||Collision|
|DNS.||John Filippi||Team OSCARO by Campos Racing||Damage|
* Post-Race Penalties:
Images via FIA WTCR Media