Volvo gets first WTCC win with last lap Thed Bjork pass in China
|By Jack Cozens||Sunday, September 25th 2016, 07:44 GMT|
Thed Bjork claimed a sensational first World Touring Car Championship win for the Volvo Polestar team with a last lap pass on Honda's Norbert Michelisz in China.
Bjork started sixth but, after getting promoted to second after an incident in front, he closed down race-long leader Michelisz and drafted by the Honda at the end of the back straight to win.
From second on the grid, Michelisz got the jump on polesitter John Filippi off the line, the Frenchman making a tentative start, and he then held off early pressure from Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen driver Tom Chilton and Lada's Gabriele Tarquini, with Bjork keeping a watching brief in fourth.
A safety car was deployed on lap three when contact between the second Volvo Polestar S60 of Fredrik Ekblom, Filippi and champion-elect Jose Maria Lopez eliminated Filippi, whose Campos Racing Chevrolet Cruze was stranded at Turn 2 with broken front-left suspension.
Michelisz got a jump on the chasing pack when the safety car came in three laps later, while Tarquini dragged the pack up to the back of Chilton's C-Elysee.
Chilton made a small mistake at the hairpin midway through the 16-lap race and that was enough to present Tarquini with a sniff, but the Italian bumped into the side of the Citroen and damaged both cars, forcing the pair into the pits and promoting Bjork to second.
That allowed the Swede to reduce Michelisz's lead at a rapid rate, with the Volvo catching the Civic with five laps to go before having to split his attentions between attacking Michelisz and defending from third-placed Yvan Muller.
Bjork was allowed some breathing space on the final lap when Nicky Catsburg tagged into Muller's side, and he made that opportunity count by tailing Michelisz through the first two sectors before drafting past on the back straight - tagging part of the bumper off the Civic in the process - and showing Michelisz out wide off the hairpin.
Bjork appeared to crab off the final corner as a result of that impact, but he made the final corner apex and held off Michelisz across the line to claim a famous first win.
The stewards opened an investigation into contact between the pair.
Michelisz followed Bjork home having been denied a second reversed grid win in as many rounds, while Muller came off best in his battle with Catsburg to claim third.
Despite voicing concerns about the health of his car after earlier contact, Lopez followed team-mate Muller across the line in fourth, having passed Catsburg at the final corner.
Catsburg did make it over the line in fifth, but stopped out on track on the cool down lap after part of Michelisz's rear bumper got caught in front of his radiator.
Hugo Valente made good progress from 13th to finish sixth in the second Lada, just ahead of Tom Coronel, while Bjork's team-mate Ekblom and the Hondas of Rob Huff and Tiago Monteiro completed the points.
RACE ONE RESULT
|1||Thed Bjork||Polestar Cyan Racing||Volvo||16||31m58.340s|
|2||Norbert Michelisz||Honda Racing Team JAS||Honda||16||0.361s|
|3||Yvan Muller||Citroen Racing||Citroen||16||0.528s|
|4||Jose Maria Lopez||Citroen Racing||Citroen||16||2.215s|
|5||Nicky Catsburg||LADA Sport||Lada||16||2.315s|
|6||Hugo Valente||LADA Sport||Lada||16||6.290s|
|7||Tom Coronel||ROAL Motorsport||Chevrolet||16||6.911s|
|8||Fredrik Ekblom||Polestar Cyan Racing||Volvo||16||12.151s|
|9||Rob Huff||Honda Racing Team JAS||Honda||16||13.494s|
|10||Tiago Monteiro||Honda Racing Team JAS||Honda||16||16.586s|
|11||Mehdi Bennani||Sebastien Loeb Racing||Citroen||16||17.078s|
|12||James Thompson||Munnich Motorsport||Chevrolet||16||18.405s|
|13||Gregoire Demoustier||Sebastien Loeb Racing||Citroen||16||26.284s|
|14||Ferenc Ficza||Zengo Motorsport||Honda||16||26.583s|
|15||Daniel Nagy||Zengo Motorsport||Honda||16||32.857s|
|16||Gabriele Tarquini||LADA Sport||Lada||11||5 Laps|
|-||Tom Chilton||Sebastien Loeb Racing||Citroen||9||Retirement|
|-||John Filippi||Campos Racing||Chevrolet||2||Retirement|