Grégoire Demoustier has finished his first touring car season with the WTCC’s first ever night races at the Losail Circuit in Qatar. After a strong run in race one, a small mistake caused him to drop behind but Demoustier focused on making the most of race two and was able to take fourth in the independent category to end his season on a high note and finish above his season rival in the Yokohama Independents Trophy to take seventh overall.
Demoustier didn’t get the start that he wanted in Qatar, beginning the race in second gear slowed him down into the first corner and got him caught up in the starting battle. After the fray had cleared, he managed to hang on and only lose one position to move into P16. The tight Losail circuit presented plenty of challenges for Demoustier, with the artificial grass that lined the track creating an incredibly slippery surface and any off line challenges had to be carefully executed. Demoustier played it safe and found it difficult to take any positions over the coming laps. On the final lap, Demoustier pushed it too far and ended up in the gravel trap before re-joining the field at the rear where he dove straight into the pits to be ready for race two.
Race two was barely into the third corner when the safety car was called out. Demoustier had managed to move up two places and into P13 before the race was restarted on lap six. The young gun was on a roll and was pushing to take more track positions. By lap 11, Demoustier had managed to secure another two places and squeeze into P11 as the season was drawing to a close. The race had been extended to 14 laps, thanks to the safety car period and Demoustier had his sights set on Nicolas Lapieree. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time left to close the gap before flag fall but the Frenchman had done enough to secure P4 in the independent category and P11 overall, in what was a strong finish to his rookie touring car season.
“It wasn’t the easiest weekend I have had and we were expecting better with the progress that I had shown recently,” said Gregoir. “I had a bit of bad luck in qualifying, being called onto the weigh bridge prevented me from doing a flying lap on fresh tyres which would have helped my starting position greatly. I would like to say thank you to everyone in Craft-Bamboo. It was not the easiest first year for me but I learnt a lot and the team helped me in every way possible to ease my transition to touring cars. We had some frustrating moments but we also had great moments and I am really happy that we got to work together and I hope that we get to continue working together in the future.”
Craft-Bamboo Racing CEO Richard Coleman was happy about the season; “Grégoire has had a big first season in touring cars and he has done a good job up against the world’s best. It was a steep learning curve, with the car and with almost every circuit being a new challenge but both Greg and the team stepped up and did their best. I am very glad to see Greg finish the final race just outside the independent podium and above his rival in the Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy.”