Franz Engstler has taken a surprise maiden World Touring Car Championship win in the second race at Oschersleben, marking the first win this season for BMW and an end to the run of eleven successive wins for the dominant Chevrolet squad.
It is also just the first time in the Championship’s history that an Independent Trophy driver has taken outright race victory, with Engstler – who celebrated his 50th birthday this week – delighting home fans with his win.
Being tenth-quickest in yesterday’s first qualifying session meant the German – who was in a hastily-repaired car following contact in the opening race – started from pole position for the standing start in Race 2. But he had a comparatively slower getaway than the Zengõ-Dension Team BMW 320TC of Norbert Michelisz, who leapt into first place from the second row of the grid.
The Safety Car was immediately deployed to clear the debris stemming from first-lap contact between Mehdi Bennani and Kristian Poulsen.
When it peeled into the pits, Alain Menu snatched third place from Tiago Monteiro, with the Portuguese driver losing fourth place to Gabriele Tarquini soon afterwards. Monteiro was slipping back, and he was passed by Tom Coronel, and then by Robert Huff, with the pair making contact. This allowed Yvan Muller to slip past both of them to take sixth place.
With victory seemingly looking more assured, Michelisz promptly had a spin and slipped to fifth behind Coronel, allowing Engstler to assume a lead he wouldn’t relinquish despite continuous pressure from second-placed Menu.
Michelisz tried to pass Coronel on the following lap and succeeded – Muller also managed to slip by the Dutchman – but the Chevrolet driver tagged the back of the Hungarian on the next lap, which created enough of a gap for him to get by.
Coronel tried to take advantage of the situation and regain the place he’d lost to Michelisz, but Michelisz refused to give way and was sent skating into the tyre wall at Turn 1.
Muller would later have a small slide to let Coronel by into fourth place, and the Dutchman put in a late charge to catch Tarquini, the pair crossing the finish line in a sprint, just 0.031 seconds apart.
Behind the leading four, Muller’s fifth place – one spot in front of Huff – saw him close the points’ gap to the championship leader by a further two points to six, following his Race 1 victory.
Engstler’s win moves him to fourth place in the Independent Trophy standings, while Norbert Michelisz, Darryl O’Young and Kristian Poulsen are locked in a tense three-way tie at the top of the standings.
The series now takes a month’s summer break before returning to action for the final European round at Valencia on September 3-4.
2011 FIA WTCC Race of Germany Final Classification (Race 2 – 15 laps):
|1.||Franz Engstler||Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW 320TC||25:05.708|
|2.||Alain Menu||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 0.750|
|3.||Gabriele Tarquini||Lukoil-SUNRED SR León 1.6T||+ 2.361|
|4.||Tom Coronel||ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC||+ 2.392|
|5.||Yvan Muller||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 3.117|
|6.||Robert Huff||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 3.816|
|7.||Robert Dahlgren||Polestar Volvo C30 1.6T ‘Drive’||+ 4.310|
|8.||Tiago Monteiro||SUNRED SR León 1.6T||+ 8.762|
|9.||Stefano D’Aste||Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC||+ 9.286|
|10.||Javier Villa García||Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC||+ 12.352|
|11.||Darryl O’Young||Bamboo Engineering Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 15.585|
|12.||Pepe Oriola||SUNRED SR León 1.6T||+ 17.167|
|13.||Ibrahim Okyay||Borusan Otomotiv BMW 320si||+ 44.757|
|14.||Yukinori Taniguchi||Bamboo Engineering Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 47.098|
|15.||Aleksei Dudukalo||Lukoil-SUNRED SR León 1.6T||+ 1:04.582|
|16.||Fabio Fabiani||Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si||+ 1:30.934|
|17.||Michel Nykjær||SUNRED SR León 1.6T||4 laps behind|
|DNF.||Norbert Michelisz||Zengõ-Dension Team BMW 320TC||10 laps|
|DNF.||Fredy Barth||Swiss Racing SR León 1.6T||7 laps|
|DNF.||Mehdi Bennani||Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC||0 laps|
|DNF.||Kristian Poulsen||Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW 320TC||0 laps|
|Tom Coronel||ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC||1:36.185|
[Original images via FIA WTCC Media]