Another World Touring Car Championship race, and another 1-2-3 for the all-conquering RML Chevrolet squad, with Yvan Muller heading another ‘bluwash’ of the Donington Park podium after winning an action-packed opening race today.
The two-time champion held off team-mate and points leader Robert Huff as the pair staged an exciting scrap for the lead, while third driver Alain Menu finished marginally behind, ready to pounce if Muller and Huff – who banged panels at the last round in Portugal – tripped over one another.
Muller lead from pole at the race’s rolling start, while Menu staged an unsuccessful attempt to wrest second place from Huff at Redgate Corner.
But it was behind the leading trio that the real action was staged, particularly with the faster drivers who had started well down the order.
Gabriele Tarquini made a storming start in his SEAT, moving from eleventh on the grid to fifth at the end of the opening lap, which became fourth when team-mate Tiago Monteiro pitted with a steering problem. The Italian was briefly able to keep pace with the leading Chevrolets, but he lost his place to Tom Coronel on the fourth lap.
He would finish in fifth place, on spot ahead of Franz Engstler, who took the Independents’ honours with sixth place, ahead of Michel Nykjær.
Robert Dahlgren was another driver to stage a charge, rocketing to tenth by the end of the opening lap having started from the back row of the grid. The Swede disposed of Colin Turkington for ninth on the third lap – Turkington having lost places with an off-track moment on the first lap – and then set about chasing down Kristian Poulsen’s BMW.
The pair staged an exciting battle for three laps, until Dahlgren braked far too late and slammed into the back of the Engstler BMW, launching into the air before coming down to earth heavily. Incredibly, he was able to continue and started to gain ground once again after dropping to 13th as a result of the contact.
On the seventh lap, Dahlgren passed both Fredy Barth and Darryl O’Young to move into eleventh place. On the final lap, he had caught up with old sparring partner Poulsen, snatching eighth place on the final lap!
Race 2 begins at 2pm local time.
2011 FIA WTCC Race of UK Final Classification (Race 1 – 13 laps):
|1.||Yvan Muller||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||21:21.521|
|2.||Robert Huff||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 1.136|
|3.||Alain Menu||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 3.903|
|4.||Tom Coronel||ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC||+ 8.708|
|5.||Gabriele Tarquini||Lukoil-SUNRED SR León 1.6T||+ 9.299|
|6.||Franz Engstler||Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW 320TC||+ 14.186|
|7.||Michel Nykjær||SUNRED SR León 1.6T||+ 18.974|
|8.||Robert Dahlgren||Polestar Volvo C30 1.6T ‘Drive’||+ 19.191|
|9.||Kristian Poulsen||Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW 320TC||+ 20.536|
|10.||Colin Turkington||Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC||+ 28.804|
|11.||Darryl O’Young||Bamboo Engineering Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 29.831|
|12.||Pepe Oriola||SUNRED SR León 1.6T||+ 29.966|
|13.||Fredy Barth||Swiss Racing SR León 1.6T||+ 34.093|
|14.||Mehdi Bennani||Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC||+ 34.526|
|15.||Aleksei Dudukalo||Lukoil-SUNRED SR León 1.6T||+ 39.419|
|16.||Yukinori Taniguchi||Bamboo Engineering Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 1:07.938|
|17.||Fabio Fabiani||Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si||1 lap behind|
|17.||Javier Villa García||Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC||1 lap behind|
|DNF.||Norbert Michelisz||Zengõ-Dension Team BMW 320TC||7 laps|
|DNF.||Tiago Monteiro||SUNRED SR León 1.6T||4 laps|
|Robert Huff||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||1:37.380|
[Original images via FIA WTCC Media]