World Touring Car Championship points leader Robert Huff has snatched a sensational win in the second race around the streets of Porto after barging past team-mate Yvan Muller to take the lead.
Muller had taken the lead from Race 2 pole-sitter Stefano D’Aste on the third lap, but Huff quickly set about passing the BMW driver before closing down a 2.5-second gap in a handful of laps to be right on the tail of his French team-mate.
After a processional first race, this one seemed to make up for it in spades when fans were thrilled with the prospect of Huff trying to find a way by Muller. The Briton settled the matter with a bold lunge past Muller at one of the circuit’s umpteen chicanes. The pair touched heavily, and Huff was forced over the chicane run-off, skipping into the lead to take his sixth win of the season.
A frustrated Muller was left to finish in second place, while Tiago Monteiro delighted his home crowd by completing the podium places, consolidating the fourth-placed finish he earned in the first race.
The Portuguese driver was handed the place when D’Aste – making his return to the championship with Wiechers-Sport as a replacement for the sacked Urs Sonderegger – was slapped with a drive-through penalty for starting outside is his grid slot.
The drama wasn’t over for the Italian, who was hit from behind and sent through the bollards by Proteam BMW driver Mehdi Bennani, who holds a reputation for this style of driving. The stewards didn’t fall for that one, and Bennani was hit with a 30-second post-race penalty, while D’Aste was classified eleventh and out of the points. What could have been a fairytale BMW win went up in smoke once again…
Aside from the action up at the front, the rest of the race was fairly tame, with Norbert Michelisz claiming fourth and back-to-back wins in the Independents’ Trophy race, holding out Tom Coronel by 0.3 seconds at the chequered flag.
Alain Menu finished sixth, acknowledging that it was about the best he could have hoped for given his eighth-placed starting position was unlikely to yield him many overtaking opportunities on this narrows circuit.
The rest of the points’ places were completed by Gabriele Tarquini, Franz Engstler, Darryl O’Young and Fredy Barth.
Robert Dahlgren finished well down the order after bogging down off the line; the rest of the field was lucky not to collect his slowly-starting Volvo as the pack sprinted for the first corner.
Huff leads the Drivers’ Championship standings by 29 points over team-mate Muller, while Menu lies in third, 40 points adrift of Huff. After a zero-point round for Kristian Poulsen and back-to-back Trophy wins, Michelisz now heads the Independent Trophy standings by five points.
2011 FIA WTCC Race of Portugal Final Classification (Race 2 – 11 laps):
|1.||Robert Huff||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||23:24.533|
|2.||Yvan Muller||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 1.797|
|3.||Tiago Monteiro||SUNRED SR León 1.6T||+ 8.728|
|4.||Norbert Michelisz||Zengõ-Dension Team BMW 320TC||+ 9.752|
|5.||Tom Coronel||ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC||+ 10.059|
|6.||Alain Menu||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 11.114|
|7.||Gabriele Tarquini||Lukoil-SUNRED SR León 1.6T||+ 12.849|
|8.||Franz Engstler||Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW 320TC||+ 19.477|
|9.||Darryl O’Young||Bamboo Engineering Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 24.147|
|10.||Fredy Barth||Swiss Racing SR León 1.6T||+ 25.787|
|11.||Stefano D’Aste||Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC||+ 30.250|
|12.||Michel Nykjær||SUNRED SR León 1.6T||+ 34.399|
|13.||Aleksei Dudukalo||Lukoil-SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI||+ 37.373|
|14.||Pepe Oriola||SUNRED SR León 1.6T||+ 37.950|
|15.||Yukinori Taniguchi||Bamboo Engineering Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 38.735|
|16.||Robert Dahlgren||Polestar Volvo C30 1.6T ‘Drive’||+ 39.365|
|17.||Javier Villa García||Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC||+ 41.084|
|18.||Mehdi Bennani*||Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC||+ 58.161|
|19.||Kristian Poulsen||Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW 320TC||+ 1:53.447|
|Robert Huff||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||2:05.846|
* Denotes 30-second time penalty applied post-race for causing an avoidable collision with Stefano D’Aste
[Original images via FIA WTCC Media]