FIA WTCC JVCKENWOOD Race of Macau Suncity Group Macau Guia Race
16-19 November 2017, FIA World Touring Car Championship, Rounds 17 and 18 of 20
Media Centre, Circuito da Guia, Macau, 15h05, 18 November
Mehdi Bennani, Sébastien Loeb Racing, first position, WTCC Trophy winner
Tom Coronel, ROAL Motorsport, second position
Ryo Michigami, Honda Racing Team JAS, third position
Turning firstly to Mehdi Bennani, your third win in the WTCC this season, the sixth of your career and your first at Macau. It’s fair to say there probably aren’t many happier people here right now?
Friday was very tricky for me and I didn’t manage one lap in Q2 but it was enough to be P10 and I was very lucky to be on pole for the Opening Race and now I am very happy. I think I have the best win in my career because to win in Macau is something very special and to win in front of drivers like Tom Coronel and Rob Huff is also very, very special because they are very talented and experienced drivers here in Macau. Congratulations to Tom and also to Michigami who starts to do some podiums and everybody who starts to make podiums in the WTCC doesn’t stop because it’s a big challenge to make podiums in the WTCC.
Turning next to Tom Coronel, second here in Macau and you said before the weekend that this was one of the events where you really felt you could score some good points and you’ve really delivered with a very strong second place…
This circuit I was leading in Formula 3 and I crashed out with two laps to go. I was leading the touring car race in 2001 with two laps to go or something like that and I crashed out. Somehow I’ve never found the luck but last night I was in Sands [casino]. I put on number nine [my race number]. My friends were all outside and they said ‘where were you?’. I said yeah, I won. They said ‘don’t change the coins, keep them’ so they are still in my pocket and I think I found some luck here. I had a very good start and saw that Michigami was very strong in Mandarin, which I knew directly. I knew in the mountain section I really had to push and there I was really on the limit everywhere for myself because this was my only chance. Then in the countdown my team engineer boss said it was four laps to go but I had the feeling it had just started, one lap. But I was happy. These are the results I need, especially at the end of the season and with the Chevrolet. It’s the oldest piece of metal we see here on track. We saw in the last few races we couldn’t do anything with the car any more and somehow we found the speed in the mountain section so I’m really happy.
Turning next to Ryo Michigami, making history today as the first Japanese driver to finish on the podium in the WTCC. How difficult was it out there keeping hold of third place but also pushing to take second from Tom Coronel?
I am very happy to be first time on the podium, the first time for a Japanese driver so thank you.
Turning back to you Mehdi and looking ahead to the Main Race tomorrow where your grid position is not so ideal so what can you achieve in the Main Race?
At the end it’s something very special to win the Macau Grand Prix. I think I have the best win in my career to now today. Tomorrow it’s about scoring points. We are still challenging at the top of the world championship. There are some things we can win but there are some things we can also lose because it’s not easy. With this victory it makes me more confident so I think I will push and score points tomorrow.
Turning back to Ryo Michigami, the top Honda finisher here and a result that’s very important for Honda’s championship ambitions. How pleased are you with what you’ve achieved for the team?
First of all, I made a mistake at the start so I was pretty frustrated but then I had the chance to catch Coronel because I felt confident but it was really tough to overtake him, especially in the mountain section. But I am very happy and satisfied with what I have done for the team because at the start of the season there were some tough moments but since the Asian rounds I was trying to catch more points and I was happy. I was also trying to support for his championship.
Questions from the floor:
To Mehdi Bennani from Pietro Casillo, TouringCarTimes.com (Sweden): Mehdi, as you said you are still in title contention but you are starting quite low on the grid so what will be your strategy?
If you see what we have done since the start of the weekend every time we are fighting for P1, P2 so if I have to choose I will choose full risk and power to try to score points. At the end if you crash, it’s crash but if you score points then it’s much better for the end of the championship because there is only one race left tomorrow I think I have to take maximum risk to see what happens at the end.