Nicky Catsburg has capped off an historic weekend for the LADA Sport team by claiming his maiden World Touring Car Championship victory in Sunday’s main race at Moscow Raceway.
After leading an emphatic 1-2-3 on home soil for the Russian carmaker in qualifying on Saturday, the Dutchman repeated the 1-2 finish from the first race – which teammate Gabriele Tarquini won ahead of him – by beating home the Italian veteran by one second.
The result vaults the Dutchman to equal-second in the Drivers’ Championship standings, thanks to a poor race for the Citroëns of Mehdi Bennani and Yvan Muller who collected just one point between them.
While the rain that struck the first race had started to ease, it wasn’t enough to warrant a switch to dry-weather tyres.
Having had a reputation for appalling getaways off the line, Catsburg at last managed to get it right from pole position and led his LADA teammates Tarquini and Hugo Valente into Turn 1.
Any hopes that LADA may have had of repeating their qualifying 1-2-3 in the race were dashed when Valente – who had generally been off-the-pace of his teammates all weekend – was passed early on by the Honda of Norbert Michelisz.
The Hondas appeared to have found some grip after a poor showing in Race 1, and this time it was Citroën which had the poor set-up, with José María López and Yvan Muller tumbling down the order.
López ended the worst weekend of his illustrious career by finishing in eighth, while Muller finished outside of the points and was even overtaken by rookie driver Ferenc Ficza in the Zengö Motorsport Honda on the penultimate lap of the race.
Valente steadily slipped back and was overtaken by the Hondas of Rob Huff and Tiago Monteiro, as well as the Münnich Motorsport Chevrolet of James Thompson, en route to a disappointing seventh. Stand-in driver Thompson was impressive, backing up his Race 1 WTCC Trophy win with a repeat effort in Race 2.
The track steadily dried out over the course of the race, and while there were fears that the wet-weather tyres would start to fall apart, Catsburg held on ahead of a faster Tarquini in the final laps to claim his maiden race win one year on from making his highly impressive series debut.
The next round of the WTCC takes place in two weeks’ time at the Vila Real street circuit in Portugal on July 26.
|2016 FIA WTCC Race of Russia – Race 2 Final Classification (17 laps)|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|1.||Nick Catsburg||LADA Sport Rosneft Vesta WTCC||17||33:00.149|
|2.||Gabriele Tarquini||LADA Sport Rosneft Vesta WTCC||17||+ 1.011|
|3.||Norbert Michelisz||Honda Racing Team JAS Civic WTCC||17||+ 13.681|
|4.||Rob Huff||Honda Racing Team JAS Civic WTCC||17||+ 20.120|
|5.||Tiago Monteiro||Honda Racing Team JAS Civic WTCC||17||+ 25.497|
|6.||James Thompson||Münnich Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze||17||+ 29.838|
|7.||Hugo Valente||LADA Sport Rosneft Vesta WTCC||17||+ 30.611|
|8.||José María López||Citroën Racing WTCC C-Elysée||17||+ 36.168|
|9.||Ferenc Ficza||Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC||17||+ 37.289|
|10.||Mehdi Bennani||Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée||17||+ 42.772|
|11.||Yvan Muller||Citroën Racing WTCC C-Elysée||17||+ 45.498|
|12.||Fredrik Ekblom||Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo S60 TC1||17||+ 54.460|
|13.||Grégoire Demoustier||Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée||17||+ 56.782|
|14.||John Filippi||Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze||17||+ 1:05.333|
|15.||Thed Björk||Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo S60 TC1||17||+ 1:19.323|
|16.||Tom Chilton||Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée||16||+ 1 lap|
|DNF.||Tom Coronel||ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze||1||Mechanica|
Image via FIA WTCC