Menu held on to win from Michelisz in Race 1

Chevrolet’s Alain Menu has won the first-ever World Touring Car championship race in Hungary, while a crowd of over 60,000 flocked to the Hungaroring circuit to cheer home local hero Norbert Michelisz, who drove a great race to finish second from sixth on the grid.

WTCC rookie driver Javier Villa took an excellent third-placed finish – his first WTCC podium – while Robert Huff staged an impressive comeback drive to finish fourth after his qualifying woes yesterday.

The first race’s rolling start brought about a bit of chaos as the 19-car field funnelled into the Turn 1 hairpin, with Michelisz tapping Villa in the back, triggering a chain reaction that saw Villa slide into Tom Coronel, who in turn tapped Yvan Muller.

The main victim in the panel rubbing was Robert Dahlgren, who was shoved off into the Turn 1 gravel trap, putting his hopes of a hefty points haul out of the window. Dahlgren’s Volvo had proven surprisingly quick all weekend, and he’d ominously gone quickest in this morning’s warm-up session with the fastest lap of the entire weekend. The Swede was able to limp back to the pits for repairs and returned to the circuit to ensure he would keep his starting position for Race 2.

The Turn 1 shenanigans saw Menu skip off into the lead, while Michelisz had leapt into second place, while Gabriele Tarquini found himself in the giddy heights of third place  in his SUNRED Engineering SEAT León TDI, gaining six places from his ninth-placed grid position.

Menu quickly set about building himself an early lead, but an inspired Michelisz was gradually able to reel the Swiss driver in and the pair enjoyed a spirited battle for the lead. Although Michelisz was never able to find a way past Menu, the pair crossed the finish line just over a second apart.

The man battle of the race was for third place, with Tarquini doing everything he could to keep a long train of cars at bay. Tarquini managed to hold off fourth-placed Villa – who himself was being harried by the Chevrolets of Muller and Huff – until the final lap, when Villa forced his way by with the pair making light contact and Villa being pushed off the circuit by the Italian.

Tarquini briefly fought back, but he was shoved wide by Villa, and this allowed both Chevrolets to slip by, with Huff sneaking past Muller to take fourth place.

Tarquini headed a nice points haul for the SUNRED squad, with Tiago Monteiro finishing seventh, followed by Fredy Barth, who took the team’s first points with the new 1.6-litre turbo making its debut. Kristian Poulsen and Pepe Oriola completed the top-ten.

Two drivers who missed out on the top-ten places were Darryl O’Young and Tom Coronel. Coronel was forced into the pits with a puncture to his ROAL BMW, while O’Young dropped out of the top-ten when he – along with Michel Nykjær and Mehdi Bennani – was issued with a drive-through penalty for cutting the Turn 14 kerbing.

Race 2 begins shortly, with Mehdi Bennani starting from pole alongside Alain Menu.

————————————————————————————————————-

2011 FIA WTCC Race of Hungary Final Classification (Race 1 – 12 laps):

Driver Team Result
1. Alain Menu SUI RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 23:45.874
2. Norbert Michelisz HUN Zengõ-Dension Team BMW 320TC BMW + 1.047
3. Javier Villa García ESP Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW + 17.383
4. Robert Huff GBR RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 17.983
5. Yvan Muller FRA RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 18.365
6. Gabriele Tarquini ITA Lukoil-SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT + 18.780
7. Tiago Monteiro POR SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT + 19.374
8. Fredy Barth SUI Swiss Racing SR León 1.6T Sunred + 24.349
9. Kristian Poulsen DEN Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW 320TC BMW + 24.481
10. Pepe Oriola ESP SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred + 26.555
11. Yukinori Taniguchi JPN Bamboo Engineering Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 35.306
12. Darryl O’Young HKG Bamboo Engineering Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 43.368
13. Michel Nykjær DEN SUNRED SR León 1.6T Sunred + 44.247
14. Mehdi Bennani MOR Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW + 46.490
15. Franz Engstler* DEU Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW 320TC BMW + 1:06.399
16. Aleksei Dudukalo* RUS Lukoil-SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT + 1:10.090
17. Fabio Fabiani ITA Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si BMW + 1:54.908
           
  NOT CLASSIFIED        
NC. Tom Coronel NED ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW + 3 laps
NC. Robert Dahlgren SWE Polestar Volvo C30 Volvo + 7 laps
NS. Urs Sonderegger SUI Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC BMW did not start
           
FASTEST LAP
  Norbert Michelisz HUN Zengõ-Dension Team BMW 320TC BMW 1:57.552

* Post-race 30-second time penalty applied by race stewards (in lieu of serving a drive-through penalty)

[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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