WTCC MAC3 report: Shanghai high for Honda
Honda ended Saturday at FIA WTCC Race of China on a high note with victory in Manufacturers Against the Clock (WTCC MAC3) at the Shanghai International Circuit.
The Japanese marque had a difficult qualifying session with factory pilots Rob Huff and Tiago Monteiro both unable to make it out of Q1. But Honda showed the value of great teamwork to claim a fifth outright WTCC MAC3 win and a sixth triumph in total in the Tour de France-inspired team time trial competition.
Drivers Huff, Monteiro and Norbert Michelisz outpaced the LADA trio of Nicky Catsburg, Gabriele Tarquini and Hugo Valente by 0.295s around two laps of the 4.603-kilometre Shanghai track from a standing start. “It was pretty good with a good start and a good pace,” said Honda Team Principal Alessandro Mariani. “It was some satisfaction after a tough qualifying.”
But there was drama as Team Honda completed its slowing down lap when Mehdi Bennani slowed on Team Citroën’s warm-up lap with a throttle sensor issue in his C-Elysée WTCC. The Moroccan, who had been brought into the French make’s WTCC MAC3 attack alongside works drivers José María López and Yvan Muller, was unable to get above walking pace due to the problem and Citroën’s challenge was aborted as a result, meaning a no-score.
However, the day wasn’t all-bad for Citroën with the points scored in qualifying enough to provisionally secure a third-straight WTCC Manufacturers’ title*.
*Citroën is the provisional FIA World Touring Car Manufacturers champion for 2016 subject to official FIA confirmation. This is because the WTCC promoter, Eurosport Events, has made a request to the FIA Touring Car Commission to cancel WTCC Race of Thailand, which will mean the championship will run over 11 events rather than 12, subject to final ratification by the FIA World Motor Sport Council.