Mirroring his efforts in Saturday’s qualifying session, Rob Huff has led a Honda 1-2-3 in Sunday’s main World Touring Car Championship race on the streets of Marrakech, beating home teammates Norbert Michelisz and Tiago Monteiro.
The earlier overcast conditions that threatened Race 1 unleashed before the start of the main race, with the field starting on wet Yokohama tyres.
Despite the low-grip conditions, Huff led the field away at the start with Michelisz and Monteiro in tow, although Monteiro found himself overtaken by Citroën’s José María López on the opening lap.
Race 1 winner Tom Coronel gained three placed to run in fifth place, but he fell to ninth in a multi-car incident at the hairpin on the opening lap. That promoted the Citroën of Yvan Muller to fifth ahead of LADA’s Hugo Valente and the fast-starting Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën of Mehdi Bennani.
Coronel then found himself under attack from the sister Chevrolet of Münnich Motorsport stand-in James Thompson. The pair waged an entertaining scrap, while up ahead Gabriele Tarquini’s LADA moved into seventh by displacing Bennani.
Further ahead, López found himself under increasing pressure from Monteiro, and succumbed to the Portuguese driver’s efforts to snatch third with a rare mistake when he ran wide at the hairpin. That was all the invitation Monteiro needed to slot into third and start chasing down Michelisz.
Tarquini also found the slippery conditions to his liking and made quick in-roads on his teammate Valente. The Frenchman was soon ordered over the pit-to-car radio to let Tarquini by, but unwisely chose to argue the point in his apparent efforts at teamwork, leading to the two drivers making contact at the exit of Turn 1 on Lap 7. Fortunately there was no major damage, but it was yet another incident between the pair, whose fractured relationship has shown little sight of improving.
Monteiro was soon on the back of second-placed Michelisz, but couldn’t capitalise on a minor error by the Hungarian at Turn 5. Up at the front, Huff smoothly controlled proceedings to lead a Honda 1-2-3 ahead of fourth-placed López – the quartet ran line-astern for the remainder of the race. It was Huff’s first non-reverse grid win since his victory at the Salzburgring in 2012.
Muller finished fifth for Citroën ahead of the LADA pair of Tarquini and Valente. Mehdi Bennani won the Independents’ trophy with eighth outright, while Thompson’s pressure on ninth-placed Coronel eventually paid off when the Dutchman made an error at Turn 5 and slid wide, allowing the Englishman and his compatriot Tom Chilton through to complete the top-ten. Chilton would later be disqualified from his tenth place finish for running tyres that had not been registered for use with the scrutineers.
Finishing behind Monteiro has meant that López’s 17-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship standings over the Portuguese driver was trimmed by just three points.
The field now heads to the most anticipated round of the season at the Nürburgring Nordschleife on May 28, where it will play a support billing to the annual 24 Hour classic.
|2016 FIA WTCC Race of Morocco – Race 2 Final Classification (22 laps)|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|1.||Rob Huff||Honda Racing Team JAS Civic WTCC||22||34:31.337|
|2.||Norbert Michelisz||Honda Racing Team JAS Civic WTCC||22||+ 0.611|
|3.||Tiago Monteiro||Honda Racing Team JAS Civic WTCC||22||+ 1.251|
|4.||José María López||Citroën Racing WTCC C-Elysée||22||+ 2.710|
|5.||Yvan Muller||Citroën Racing WTCC C-Elysée||22||+ 9.916|
|6.||Gabriele Tarquini||LADA Sport Rosneft Vesta WTCC||22||+ 10.517|
|7.||Hugo Valente||LADA Sport Rosneft Vesta WTCC||22||+ 32.503|
|8.||Mehdi Bennani||Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée||22||+ 36.143|
|9.||James Thompson||Münnich Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze||22||+ 37.222|
|10.||Nick Catsburg||LADA Sport Rosneft Vesta WTCC||22||+ 46.695|
|11.||Tom Coronel||ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze||22||+ 1:04.823|
|12.||John Filippi||Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze||22||+ 1:07.716|
|13.||Ferenc Ficza||Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC||22||+ 1:08.035|
|14.||Thed Björk||Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo S60 TC1||21||+ 1 lap|
|15.||Fredrik Ekblom||Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo S60 TC1||21||+ 1 lap|
|DNF.||Grégoire Demoustier||Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée||5||Mechanical|
|DQ.||Tom Chilton^||Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée||Tyres|
^ Post-Race Penalties:
Tom Chilton (originally classified in 10th place) was found to have competed the race on unregistered tyres and disqualified from the final classification.
Image via FIA WTCC