FIA WTCC, Race of Qatar: Hungarian Michelisz takes independent title in night-time thriller
According to fiawtcc.com, Yvan Muller has beaten Citroën team-mate Sébastien Loeb to the coveted runner-up spot in the FIA World Touring Car Championship by a single point as the all-action 2015 season concluded with a floodlit spectacular at the Losail International Circuit, venue of the WTCC’s maiden night race and the first in the Middle East. And there were celebrations too for Norbert Michelisz at the finish of WTCC DHL Race of Qatar with the Hungarian Honda driver capturing his second Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy by four points ahead of Mehdi Bennani, who finished second overall in race one, fiawtcc.com wrote.
José María López equalled his own record of 10 wins in one season by triumphing in the opening counter before Muller claimed race two honours after John Filippi had led away from the reverse-grid pole. Hugo Valente joined López and Bennani on the race one podium, while Ma Qing Hua and Michelisz completed the podium for race two.
Elsewhere, ROAL Motorsport, the team co-owned by touring car legend Roberto Ravaglia, secured the Yokohama Teams’ Trophy thanks to the efforts of drivers Toms Chilton and Coronel.
RACE ONE ROUND-UP: LÓPEZ EQUALS RECORD WITH VICTORY NUMBER 10
The fiawtcc.com said, after surviving a first-corner attack from team-mate Sébastien Loeb, José María López was able to sprint to an impressive victory ahead of Mehdi Bennani and Hugo Valente. By winning the Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy category in second overall, Bennani narrowed Norbert Michelisz’s lead in the battle for the independent racers’ title ahead of the season finale to two points. Loeb, who started third, fell to fourth, fought back ahead of Valente for third before dropping back at Turn 1 on lap two. He hassled Valente for the remainder of the 12-lap contest but ultimately settled for fourth, a result that nevertheless enabled him to extend his advantage to 12 points over Yvan Muller in the fight to be WTCC vice-champion. Muller finished sixth behind Ma Qing Hua with Michelisz seventh ahead of fellow Honda driver Tiago Monteiro.
RACE TWO ROUND-UP: MULLER ON TOP AS INDEPENDENT RACERS SHINE
John Filippi gave his all to keep Yvan Muller behind on the charge to the first corner. Although Muller initially got ahead, Filippi fought back at Turn 1 to hold a lead that would last for five laps while the safety car circulated following a collision between Nicky Catsburg and Stefano D’Aste. When racing resumed Muller seized his opportunity at T1 as contact with Filippi sent the youngster spinning to the side of the track, while Muller just did enough to keep Ma Qing Hua at bay as he battled to regain control of his Citroën. Even if Filippi had kept Muller behind, his tenure of top spot wouldn’t have lasted after officials deemed the 20-year-old had made a false start, which earned the privateer a drive-through penalty. While Muller gradually increased his lead over Ma, Loeb was unable to pass Norbert Michelisz for third and the points he needed to secure the runner-up spot in the final table in what is likely to be his final appearance in the WTCC. Mehdi Bennani took fifth with Hugo Valente sixth, Gabriele Tarquini seventh and José María López eighth after opening-lap contact sent him off track and down to P12.
YOKOHAMA DRIVERS’ TROPHY: BENNANI BEST BUT MICHELISZ JUST BETTER
According to fiawtcc.com, Norbert Michelisz clinched his second Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy by four points ahead of Mehdi Bennani as the title rivals claimed a win apiece in Qatar. Hugo Valente was second in race one with Michelisz, Stefano D’Aste and Tom Coronel next up followed by Tom Chilton and John Filippi. Home hero Nasser Al-Attiyah took the final point when Grégoire Demoustier pitted with one lap left. Michelisz won race two from Bennani, Valente, Demoustier, Coronel, Chilton, Al-Attiyah and Filippi.
Read more and watch pictures on fiawtcc.com.