Esteban Guerrieri recorded the seventh WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup podium finish for the Honda Civic Type R TCR in the first of three races at Ningbo International Speedpark on Saturday.
Starting fourth, the ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport driver produced a sensational first half-lap to climb to second and then held his position commandingly for the remainder of the 13-lap race in China.
His team-mate Yann Ehrlacher was set to move up from 11th on the grid to sixth in the final minute of qualifying, only for a late red flag to force him to call off his effort. After being hit several times at the start, he was only 15th at the end of the first lap.
The Frenchman set about a series of impressive overtaking moves to climb to eighth by the chequered flag; his race establishing a pattern nearly replicated by new team-mate – and front-wheel-drive debutant – Timo Scheider.
Timo, a two-time DTM champion, climbed to 11th by the chequered flag and notably passed two cars in the same corner during the first half of the race.
Münnich remain third in the Teams’ Championship with Yann and Esteban fifth and seventh in the Drivers’ points table.
After starting 22nd, Boutsen Ginion Racing’s Tom Coronel made some courageous moves on the opening lap to avoid the midfield contact and climb to 15th in his Civic Type R TCR.
He made up one more spot before half-distance and looked set to hold on to it before suffering a slow right-front puncture, which dropped him a place in the final sequence of corners.
Team-mate Ma Qinghua, on his WTCR debut, made good early progress from 17th, but was hit several times midway during the opening laps and suffered damaged suspension.
The Chinese racer managed to keep his car on-track and finished the race 19th; closing in on a long train of cars headed by the puncture-stricken Coronel on the last lap.