Yvan Muller has taken his first World Touring Car Championship win of the season – his first win in 18 races – in a rain-hit second race at the Hungaroring.
The baking conditions that greeted drivers in the first race of the day less than two hours before had long since disappeared, and a heavy rain shower lashed the track in the minutes before the race.
Muller had managed to gain four places from his eighth-placed starting position before the race was red-flagged as conditions became too treacherous as the entire field struggled on the gripless surface with slick tyres.
Hometown hero Norbert Michelisz was a case in point. After finishing an impressive second in Race 1, the Hungarian was far too optimistic as he tried to make up ground at the first start, losing control of his BMW and slamming into Kristian Poulsen as the Dane turned for the apex of the corner.
The race was stopped for half an hour, and the entire field was able to make the restart – albeit some in hastily patched-up cars – that saw Alain Menu convert his front-row start into the race lead.
Muller set about passing Tom Coronel for third on the first lap, and this became second when Menu crashed out on the fifth lap after getting a wheel on the grass and losing control of his Chevrolet. No points for the Swiss driver, who will no doubt be frustrated at throwing away a golden opportunity to close down the gap to championship leader and team-mate Robert Huff.
Menu’s crash now left Tarquini in the lead, but it was fleeting as Muller swept by on the very next lap to take the lead he would never lose.
Huff drove a sensational race to finish second after starting from 12th on the grid. He made up seven places before the red flag and was steadily able to work his way up the order in the second phase of the race, dispatching with Coronel and then Tarquini to finish 3.6 seconds behind Muller.
Tarquini held on to finish third with SEAT team-mate Tiago Monteiro fifth and the pair sandwiching Coronel.
Monteiro had an enjoyable battle with the 1.6-litre turbo-engined sister SEAT of Michel Nykjær, until the Dane suffered a puncture and had to peel into the pits.
Monteiro then had to deal with the rapid Franz Engstler, who took the huge gamble of taking the restart on slick tyres. As his rivals’ wet tyres started to give up on the drying track, the wily Engstler was able to scythe his way up the order and finished less than one-tenth of a second behind Monteiro at the flag.
Javier Villa consolidated his Race 1 podium with a run to seventh place ahead of Darryl O’Young’s Bamboo Chevrolet, while Robert Dahlgren finished a disconsolate ninth after he was hit with a drive-through penalty for colliding with Pepe Oriola’s SEAT on the first lap after the restart. He finished ahead of Fredy Barth, who took the final championship point with tenth place.
2011 FIA WTCC Race of Hungary Final Classification (Race 2 – 14 laps):
|1.||Yvan Muller||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||59:02.507|
|2.||Robert Huff||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 3.631|
|3.||Gabriele Tarquini||Lukoil-SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI||+ 10.106|
|4.||Tom Coronel||ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC||+ 11.699|
|5.||Tiago Monteiro||SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI||+ 22.995|
|6.||Franz Engstler||Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW 320TC||+ 23.070|
|7.||Javier Villa García||Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC||+ 26.322|
|8.||Darryl O’Young||Bamboo Engineering Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 31.267|
|9.||Robert Dahlgren||Polestar Volvo C30||+ 36.832|
|10.||Fredy Barth||Swiss Racing SR León 1.6T||+ 37.247|
|11.||Yukinori Taniguchi||Bamboo Engineering Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 43.609|
|12.||Aleksei Dudukalo||Lukoil-SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI||+ 1:34.238|
|13.||Michel Nykjær||SUNRED SR León 1.6T||+ 1 lap|
|14.||Mehdi Bennani||Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC||+ 1 lap|
|15.||Norbert Michelisz||Zengõ-Dension Team BMW 320TC||+ 1 lap|
|NF.||Fabio Fabiani||Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si||5 laps|
|NF.||Alain Menu||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||4 laps|
|NF.||Pepe Oriola||SUNRED SR León 1.6T||4 laps|
|NF.||Kristian Poulsen||Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW 320TC||3 laps|
|NS.||Urs Sonderegger||Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC||did not start|
|Norbert Michelisz||Zengõ-Dension Team BMW 320TC||2:04.056|
[Original images via FIA WTCC Media]