FIA WTCR RACE OF CHINA-NINGBO
International Speedpark, 28-30 September 2018
WTCR – FIA World
Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO, Rounds 19-21 of 30
Thed Björk, YMR, first position
Gabriele Tarquini, BRC Racing Team, second position
Denis Dupont, Audi Sport Team Comtoyou, third position
Yvan Muller, YMR, first position Race 2
Ma Qing Hua, Boutsen Ginion Racing, leading local driver
Winning not just once this weekend, Thed, but twice – a fantastic
result and exceptionally important for your championship aspirations.
Just talk us through your race win today in particular.
It was a fantastic race from the start, just flying way from the others
and having a race by myself. After the red flag as well I was just
flying away. I must be really happy with the team, who work so hard
putting the car together all the time. It felt so good, in the window [of
performance] all the time and I just had to drive.
The race had to be temporarily suspended for safety reasons. After that
red flag, were you concerned in any way?
No, usually I’m not so concerned: just keep the same pace, try to do a
good restart and follow it from there. In that flow I had I was not
worried. I got fresh tyres as well!
You talked before the weekend about the importance of your preparation.
Was that the key to your success?
Yeah, but preparation also started last year when I was here when we
drove in the rain. That made it easier for me to find the window around
We come next to Race 2 winner and Thed, your team boss Yvan Muller.
What happened to you in Race 2, but also in Race 3?
Race 2 happened very well for me. Good start, I could take the lead
from the first corner and then I pushed as much as I could for the
first lap, then managed my gap to Mehdi Bennani. Race 3, I don’t know,
I had contact on the front right on the first lap. Then my damper was
damaged and finally I lost some rubber from my tyre, so there was no
point carrying on. So I stopped, changed the tyre and checked the car,
and came in. That’s it.
You then had a great view watching your team celebrate Thed’s victory.
That must be very satisfying.
Yes, it was very satisfying, of course. You cannot imagine how hard it
is when you don’t manage a team. For some years I know now to a big
level and when you have a fantastic weekend like this you have to
appreciate it. Two qualifying [sessions], two pole positions and three
race victories. OK, the man of the weekend is Thed. He did a fantastic
job, the best driver of the weekend by far, and we are the best team of
Gabriele, you have an advantage of just eight points heading to Wuhan
next week. You’ve had an eventful weekend. Just explain Races 2 and 3
The toughest was just to survive with a five-place grid penalty for
Race 1. But I finished fourth so it was a very good Saturday for me.
Unfortunately, the second race was not as good as the first one. I had
a big accident on corner number 11 because there was a big fight in
front of me and a car stopped in the middle of the chicane. I broke the
intercooler and the race was over for me. Fortunately, the guys were
fantastic for me during the second race and the repair time. They
changed the radiator, the intercooler, the front splitter and
everything. In the end, the car was almost perfect. The third race was
very good for me because I gained two positions on the first lap and
after it was just following Thed. I mean he was faster than me in the
initial part of the race and also after the restart, so there was no
chance to follow him. I’m happy with the second place.
Finally, Denis Dupont, we are joined by you in a press conference and
also on the podium. Just explain the transformation this weekend,
because you’ve worked all season long to get here. How did it happen?
For sure, we have been struggling so far and this weekend has been
really good. But already in the Slovakia Ring we showed quite good
performance here and there, and now we could put everything together
and make sure we had a really strong weekend. All weekend we were fast,
but I really think the most thing is when you see the work the team has
done during the summer break. All four cars are very strong now and
everybody is scoring points. That’s really the key. Now we can work and
move forward. I’m really thankful for that because it makes a big
Can you give us any secrets about what the team has been doing over the
Aw, not so many things! It’s the small details actually that makes the
difference at such a high level when you miss a few points on the car,
then you start far behind and you can never come back. Now we have just
found a window that works quite well. I also think it’s the strongest
weekend for Audi in the WTCR so far, and that’s very positive also for
It’s also a great endorsement for the RACB national team initiative
because they have found you and given you this great opportunity, and
now you have repaid them with this podium in a world series.
Yes, it’s the second podium for the RACB this weekend, so it’s a good
weekend for us, of course.
Ma Qing Hua, the weekend has not come your way with a problem in Race 2
keeping you out of Race 3. Can you explain what happened in Race 2
First of all, thank you and congratulations to all the drivers this
weekend and well done. The first race this afternoon was a good start
for me and I gained some positions, fighting with a group of cars. Then
I did some overtaking and then in the last few laps I saw Yann
Ehrlacher had dropped some places with some contact before, and at the
very last lap I’m just catching the front car of Oriola and I’m trying
to overtake, I know this is the last chance. I pulled out and tried to
overtake and I think the pace of Yann, I think he must have had a
problem, he was not as fast as normal. So I was side by side with
Oriola and Yann was already in the middle of the corner and I tried to
stop the car… Yeah, I feel very sorry for him and for him it was very
unlucky. I want to say sorry to him, it was not my purpose. My target
was just to overtake Oriola and this was not the consequence I wanted.
My car then had some damage at the front and I could not start for Race
3. And in qualifying I had a problem. In Q2 I had an anti-roll bar
broken so my Q2 was really destroyed. Anyway, this was my first weekend
and I learned a lot. It was a new car, new team, new circuit. Now I
have more confidence and more idea to push and perform in the race
weekend. So I think next weekend in Wuhan I will be more prepared and
I’m looking forward to it.
You mention Wuhan. No one had yet raced there, but what do you think we
can expect from that city and street track?
It is always not easy to race on a street circuit, but for me it is a
good thing because they don’t now the track and I don’t know, so the
starting point will be a bit more close. Also I’ve seen the track
layout and it looks quite a good place for overtaking and it’s a good
circuit for touring car racing. I hope we can enjoy the Wuhan street
circuit and we can bring a good show to the local people.
Neil Hudson, TouringCarTimes.com:
Thed, Yvan and Gabriele, there’s a breakaway group in the championship
and you are covered by just nine points. Who do you think is your
biggest threat between the three of you?
It was really good for me to catch up. Even though Gabriele and I are
close, I think other people will catch us up. It will maybe be hard to
stay in that breakaway group, as you say, and I think it will close up.
It is impossible to answer that question because many other cars will
lose weight for Wuhan, so we will struggle a lot. That’s the first
thing. Then if you look at the whole season, everything can happen –
everything. It can be that even another one can win the championship
other than us three, so I cannot answer that question.
Also for me it’s only three races, but it’s nine possibilities to score
a lot of points, more than 80 per weekend. I think it is not only three
to play for the title. Some others can re-join us an play very hard
until the last corner of the last race.