Tiago Monteiro took his third WTCC race victory with a lights-to-flag demonstration in front of his home crowd at the Portuguese Portimao circuit. His win sees him having won twice on home soil, after his 2008 win at the Estoril circuit.
The former F1 driver led easily from pole position in the opening stages of the 11-lap race, but came under increasing pressure from the Chevrolet of championship-leader Yvan Muller as the race (and Monteiro’s tyres) wore on.
A two-car race quickly became a four-car battle as both Gabriele Tarquini and Augusto Farfus closed up on the leading duo, but the running order remained the same until the end of the race, no doubt much to Monteiro’s relief.
Robert Huff had been running fourth, but slid into the gravel with a puncture after contact with Farfus – an incident for which he was later reprimanded by the race stewards – and he rejoined in last place after repairs to his Chevrolet and the destroyed Yokohama tyre.
Alain Menu improved on his ninth-placed grid slot with a run to fifth in the race, while Tom Coronel managed even better with a sixth-placed result after qualifying outside of the top-ten with a host of mechanical gremlins striking his SEAT.
Rounding out the top eight – and qualifying on the front row for the afternoon’s second race – will be the SEATs of Norbert Michelisz and Fredy Barth, with the Swiss driver starting from pole position.
After his impressive showing to-date in his first WTCC appearance of the season, poor Colin Turkington was punted out of a certain Independents’ Trophy victory by none other than Barth, whom he passed on the road before being shoved off-track. The Independents’ win went instead to Sergio Hernández.
Three retirees from the race included the likes of Andy Priaulx – courtesy of opening lap panel-rubbing – Jordi Gené and Mehdi Bennani.
Race 9 Final Classification (11 laps):
|1.||Tiago Monteiro||SR Sport SEAT León TDI||21:38.194|
|2.||Yvan Muller||RML Chevrolet Cruze LT||+ 1.032|
|3.||Gabriele Tarquini||SR Sport SEAT León TDI||+ 1.587|
|4.||Augusto Farfus||RBM Team BMW 320si||+ 1.826|
|5.||Alain Menu||RML Chevrolet Cruze LT||+ 8.807|
|6.||Tom Coronel||SR Sport SEAT León TDI||+ 11.723|
|7.||Norbert Michelisz||Zengö-Dension SEAT León TDI||+ 12.562|
|8.||Fredy Barth||SUNRED SEAT León TDI||+ 20.173|
|9.||Sergio Hernández (I)||Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si||+ 23.113|
|10.||Darryl O’Young (I)||Bamboo Chevrolet Lacetti||+ 23.245|
|11.||Kristian Poulsen (I)||Poulsen Motorsport BMW 320si||+ 23.642|
|12.||Colin Turkington (I)||eBay Motors BMW 320si||+ 25.738|
|13.||Franz Engstler (I)||Team Engstler BMW 320si||+ 26.845|
|14.||Stefan D’Aste (I)||Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si||+ 27.248|
|15.||Harry Vaulkhard (I)||Bamboo Chevrolet Lacetti||+ 29.295|
|16.||Andrey Romanov (I)||Team Engstler BMW 320si||+ 44.117|
|17.||Michel Nykjær||SUNRED SEAT León TDI||+ 49.348|
|18.||Robert Huff||RML Chevrolet Cruze LT||+ 1 lap|
|Jordi Gené||SR Sport SEAT León TDI||7 laps|
|Mehdi Bennani (I)||Wiechers Sport BMW 320si||4 laps|
|Andy Priaulx||RBM Team BMW 320si||3 laps|
[Original images via FIA WTCC official website]