Tom Coronel has claimed his second World Touring Car Championship race win of the 2016 season, holding off former teammate Tom Chilton with a defensive drive from pole position in the opening race on the streets of Vila Real.
After qualifying tenth-fastest to secure pole position for the opening reversed-grid race, Coronel made a textbook getaway to lead the pack through the opening sequence of corners.
Chilton got the jump on Coronel’s fellow front-row starter Nicky Catsburg in the LADA to slot into second place, with the top three running in that order for the remainder of the race.
Coronel and Chilton built a small gap over Catsburg and the chasing pack of Mehdi Bennani, José María López, Thed Björk, Rob Huff and Norbert Michelisz.
The tight yet high speed nature of the Vila Real circuit presents few, if any, overtaking opportunities, and despite Chilton having the quicker car he was unable to find his way past.
Coronel would hold his nerve, knowing that only a mistake would prove enough to give Chilton’s Citroën the lead. The two crossed the line separated by less than six-tenths of a second, with Catsburg gallantly holding on in his ballast-heavy LADA to claim third place, despite a very soft brake pedal.
Bennani finished fourth ahead of fellow Citroën runner López, while Huff provided one of the few passing moves in his Honda when he passed Björk’s Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo at the roundabout on the penultimate lap.
Michelisz finished eighth, with Honda teammate and Race 2 pole-sitter Tiago Monteiro driving clean races to sandwich ninth-placed Yvan Muller. Incredibly, the top eleven finishers were covered by just 9.7 seconds at the end of the race.
|2016 FIA WTCC Race of Portugal – Race 1 Final Classification (13 laps)|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|1.||Tom Coronel||ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze||13||26:11.089|
|2.||Tom Chilton||Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée||13||+ 0.597|
|3.||Nick Catsburg||LADA Sport Rosneft Vesta WTCC||13||+ 2.626|
|4.||Mehdi Bennani||Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée||13||+ 3.145|
|5.||José María López||Citroën Racing WTCC C-Elysée||13||+ 3.626|
|6.||Rob Huff||Honda Racing Team JAS Civic WTCC||13||+ 4.332|
|7.||Thed Björk||Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo S60 TC1||13||+ 5.155|
|8.||Norbert Michelisz||Honda Racing Team JAS Civic WTCC||13||+ 5.452|
|9.||Yvan Muller||Citroën Racing WTCC C-Elysée||13||+ 7.411|
|10.||Tiago Monteiro||Honda Racing Team JAS Civic WTCC||13||+ 8.054|
|11.||James Thompson||Münnich Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze||13||+ 9.711|
|12.||Gabriele Tarquini||LADA Sport Rosneft Vesta WTCC||13||+ 15.602|
|13.||Robert Dahlgren||Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo S60 TC1||13||+ 20.282|
|14.||Ferenc Ficza||Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC||13||+ 30.555|
|15.||John Filippi||Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze||13||+ 32.774|
|16.||Grégoire Demoustier||Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée||13||+ 33.218|
|17.||Dániel Nagy||Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC||13||+ 1:07.844|
|DNF.||Hugo Valente||LADA Sport Rosneft Vesta WTCC||4||Suspension|
Image via FIA WTCC