WTCC Q&A: Mehdi Bennani
Mehdi Bennani is the provisional WTCC Trophy champion for 2016, winning the FIA World Touring Car Championship for independent racers in style with victory in the Main Race at WTCC Race of China yesterday. This is what Sébastien Loeb Racing’s Moroccan maestro had to say.
AUTO - WTCC SHANGHAI 2016FIA WTCR
A fantastic achievement after a fantastic season for you. How does it feel?
“For sure it’s been a tough weekend because when you know you can be champion by scoring points it’s very nice but also very bad because you don’t want to crash the car in the first race, even though it was very close. I wanted to do well and my engineer was explaining to me ‘now you are two points ahead’. It’s very tough and also because my team-mate [Tom Chilton] is a very strong driver and has been for this whole championship. He was fast and a winner in the same car and nearly the same set-up so it was really tough to score the points I needed. He retired in the first race, which was a shame for him but it gave me the opportunity to fight and be the champion. It was my main goal for this season, also last year I was very close to winning, I was four points from Norbert Michelisz. But this year was my year and I’m very happy.”
It’s not just the WTCC Trophy but another overall podium at a track you have gone very well at in the past. What’s your secret at the Shanghai International Circuit?“I don’t know! Often the races in Asia are good for me and it also happened when I was in Formula BMW. It’s all the time working for me but I don’t know why. Maybe because it’s a track that’s far away and no one can practice much so maybe we are more on the same level here and it’s not such an advantage for the top drivers.”
The final round of the WTCC is in Qatar and with your Arabic heritage, how important is this event going to be for you as you celebrate your WTCC Trophy victory and potentially go for an even higher place in the overall championship?“For sure Morocco and Qatar are very close, the people are very close because there are a lot of partnerships between both countries. And when I race in Qatar it’s really like Marrakech so I hope to have a fantastic race. It could be a bit more special now I am already world champion. And I think I will be even stronger because I will have nothing to lose and nothing to win and in the end it could good so I will do my best to do two strong races and get some good points overall because I need to think about this overall championship. I hope to score more points to be close to the top six or top five.”