Race 1 saw Huff lead from pole

Robert Huff has won the opening race of this weekend’s World Touring Car Championship Race of Belgium from pole position, leading home a Chevrolet 1-2-3 at  the Zolder circuit today.

The Briton lead team-mate Alain Menu away off the rolling start, while defending champion Yvan Muller finished third, passing Gabriele Tarquini’s SEAT with a few laps to go before the chequered flag.

Tarquini had actually run as high as second after the race started, diving past Menu at Turn 1, only to be gobbled up by the Swiss driver just one corner later.

The race was interrupted by a four-lap safety car period that was triggered by two simultaneous accidents on the third lap.

The first accident saw Yukinori Taniguchi’s Chevrolet tipped into a spin by SEAT rookie Aleksei Dudukalo at Turn 1 when the Russian tried to pass the Bamboo Chevrolet entry. Taniguchi had a half-spin, but he was collected broadside on the right-hand-side by Marchy Lee’s BMW. The collision put Lee out of the race, while Taniguchi was able to bring his damaged Cruze home in 14th place.

The second accident saw Tom Coronel lose control of his BMW as he tried to avoid Fredy Barth’s sideways SEAT, which had spun at Turn 4. The Dutchman was hit by Franz Engstler in the melee, ripping the right-front wheel off his car and putting all three drivers out of the race.

The race restarted once the debris had been cleared away, and Muller almost immediately found a way by Tarquini and into third place, while Tiago Monteiro kept a watching brief in fifth in the second SEAT.

Further behind, the leading BMWs of Norbert Michelisz and Kristian Poulsen were enjoying a fierce battle for sixth – and also the lead of the Independent Trophy classification – which was eventually resolved in the Dane’s favour after a door-to-door battle with Michelisz.

And enormous plaudits to the race’s rear-row starters, Michel Nykjær and Javier Villa, who finished in eighth and ninth after each had a sensational run through the field. Villa overtook Darryl O’Young for ninth place on the final lap.

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2011 FIA WTCC Race of Belgium Final Classification (Race 1 – 15 laps):

Driver Team Result
1. Robert Huff GBR RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 29:18.807
2. Alain Menu SUI RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 1.244
3. Yvan Muller FRA RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 1.740
5. Gabriele Tarquini ITA Lukoil-SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT + 3.790
5. Tiago Monteiro POR SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT + 5.102
6. Kristian Poulsen DEN Team Engstler BMW 320TC BMW + 8.987
7. Norbert Michelisz HUN Zengõ-Dension Team BMW 320TC BMW + 10.878
8. Michel Nykjær DEN SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT + 12.032
9. Javier Villa García ESP Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW + 12.845
10. Darryl O’Young HKG Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 12.901
11. Pepe Oriola ESP SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT + 14.656
12. Aleksei Dudukalo RUS Lukoil-SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT + 17.538
13. Robert Dahlgren SWE Polestar Volvo C30 Volvo + 18.687
14. Yukinori Taniguchi JPN Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 25.864
15. Urs Sonderegger SUI Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC BMW + 42.236
16. Fabio Fabiani ITA Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si BMW + 1:07.741
           
  NOT CLASSIFIED        
NF. Fredy Barth SUI Swiss SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT 2 laps
NF. Tom Coronel NED ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW 2 laps
NF. Mehdi Bennani MOR Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW 2 laps
NF. Franz Engstler DEU Team Engstler BMW 320TC BMW 2 laps
NF. Marchy Lee Ying Kin HKG KK Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW 2 laps
           
FASTEST LAP
  Robert Huff GBR RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:39.517

[Original images via FIA WTCC Media]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.

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