Mehdi Bennani takes WTCC win in Hungary

Track action (Photo by FIA)Mehdi Bennani became the fifth different winner in the all-action 2017 FIA World Touring Car Championship as 45,000 fans watched the action at WTCC JVCKENWOOD Race of Hungary.

Bennani’s Main Race triumph in a Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën, the fourth of his career, followed Tiago Monteiro’s success in the Opening Race, a result that gives the Portuguese driver a 38-point title lead. But there was to be no podium celebrations for Norbert Michelisz, Monteiro’s factory Honda team-mate, who dropped out of the Opening Race with damage following first-lap contact with Thed Björk before battling through to take fourth in the Main Race.

Tom Chilton scored a podium double to boost his WTCC Trophy title prospects, while Rob Huff charged through from ninth to third in the Opening Race. However, he was unable to convert his Main Race DHL pole position into victory after a sluggish start dropped him into a fight with Volvo Polestar drivers Nicky Catsburg and Néstor Girolami, which ended when the trio came together at Turn 2 on the first lap.

While Huff and Catsburg continued, Girolami’s race ended in the barriers, much to the Argentine’s frustration. Huff, driving for ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, was then punished for his part in the incident, serving a drive-through penalty just after he’d wrestled the lead from Bennani, who held on amid brake problems to beat Catsburg to first place as Chilton completed the podium.

Girolami took fourth in the Opening Race ahead of Catsburg and Campos Racing privateer Esteban Guerrieri with Mehdi Benanni, Yann Ehrlacher, Tom Coronel and Aurélien Panis completing the top 10. In the Main Race, Tiago Monteiro bagged more points in fifth behind Michelisz, with Guerrieri sixth once again. Björk bounced back from his Opening Race retirement to take seventh, Ehrlacher finished eighth, Coronel took ninth with Huff having to make do with P10. P11 in the Main Race was the best it got for John Filippi, who stalled at the start of the Opening Race, which he started from pole position. Afterwards, Bennani dedicated his victory to his late father, who passed away earlier this year, while Monteiro heads to the the Nürburgring Nordschleife for WTCC Race of Germany from 25-27 May leading the championship standings.

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