Mehdi Bennani (born 25 August 1983 in Fes) is a Moroccan racing driver who currently competes in the World Touring Car Championship with Proteam Racing.
He became the first Moroccan driver to win a race world championship organized by the FIA, the after his victory in Shanghai, WTCC .
Like most racing drivers, Bennani started out in karting, winning his national championship in 2001. He finished as runner-up in the European Karting Championship in the 100 ICA class. He also won the Moroccan Fiat Palio Trophy in 2001. He moved into single-seaters and was runner-up in Formula BMW Asia in 2004. He moved to the Formula Renault 3.5 Series in 2005 with the Avalon Formula team, racing against the likes of Robert Kubica and Will Power. He also competed for EuroInternational in 2006, but failed to score a point in his time in the series. He competed in Euroseries 3000 in 2007 and scored a best result of fourth. In 2008 he competed in the Pau Historical Grand Prix, where he finished second.
In May 2009 Bennani competed in his home round of the World Touring Car Championship, the Race of Morocco at the Marrakech Street Circuit in a SEAT León 2.0 TFSI prepared by Exagon Engineering. He was backed by OMNT, Morocco’s Tourism Office. He became the first North African to race in the WTCC, on the series’ first visit to the African continent. He qualified in 14th place for the first race, and finished in 9th place, winner of the Independents category. He finished ninth in the second race, and impressed throughout the weekend with the way he was able to keep up with WTCC regulars. He competed at four further race weekends for Exagon. At the Race of Portugal he collided with the stranded car of Alain Menu on the narrow street circuit, he was later disqualified from the final classification.
Bennani stayed on at Proteam for 2012. He was joined at the team by Isaac Tutumlu until he left after the Race of Slovakia, reducing the team to one car for Bennani. He took a career best fourth place finish in race one at the Race of Hungary. He bettered this with his maiden podium finish in race two having finished in third place. A collision with Stefano D’Aste at the Race of Portugal earned him a suspended grid penalty. He started second for race two of the Race of the United States and inherited the lead from D’Aste half way around the first lap when D’Aste spun off. He held the lead until lap four when he spun off and damaged his car, forcing him to retire and the lead passed to Franz Engstler. Race one of the Race of Japan saw Aleksei Dudukalo collide with Bennani who then returned to the pits for repairs. The second race was better and Bennani held off the Chevrolet trio for much of the race before passing him in the lap two laps. He was caught up in a first corner crash in race one of the Race of Macau in which a number of cars piled into the Lisboa corner on the first lap and blocked the track. Bennani’s car was stuck across the track and was lifted out of the way before the race resumed. He finished the season tenth in the drivers’ championship tied on points with Alex MacDowall but ranked ahead due to his podium in Hungary.
Bennani stayed with Proteam for the 2013 season, driving their BMW 320 TC for the third consecutive year.
In 2014 Bennani scored his first WTCC win at the championship’s Shanghai round. Bennani went on to finish the season in 11th place.