Remembering when… Menu made WTCC history in China
Prior to 2011 the FIA World Touring Car Championship had never ventured to mainland China. But that changed when the Tianma Circuit in Shanghai hosted the penultimate event of the season on 6 November with Alain Menu taking the first race laurels for Chevrolet.
Starting from pole following a rain-hit qualifying, the Swiss built an early lead before Colin Turkington made his move, closing up in his Wiechers-Sport BMW. Menu responded and took the victory by a little more than one second with his factory Chevrolet team-mate Rob Huff completing the podium for a British two-three.
While Race 1 was a relatively tame affair, there was drama from the start in Race 2 with Norbert Michelisz, Tiago Monteiro, Javier Villa and Darryl O’Young eliminated in a multi-car clash on the opening tour. Leader Gabriele Tarquini and pole-sitter Huff then clashed later on lap one. While the Italian held on to top spot, Huff slipped to fourth before fighting back to third. But Tarquini’s advantage wouldn’t last for long, however, when Yvan Muller demoted him for a lead he wouldn’t relinquish on lap four.
China has remained on the WTCC roster ever since and even got two races in 2014 when Goldenport Park in Beijing was called on to replace the cancelled Sonoma event in the USA. But after a five-year stint at the Shanghai International Circuit, this year’s FIA WTCC Race of China, scheduled for 13-15 October, will take place at the all-new Ningbo International Speedpark.