To call it a chaotic race would be the master of understatement: it took three attempts to get the rolling start going, and once the race finally got underway, it didn’t last much longer!
The former F1 veteran survived early pressure from Chevrolet’s Robert Huff and held out until the eighth lap when the Safety Car made its appearance that would last until race-end.
Moroccan guest driver Ismail Sbaï crashed his Lacetti at one of the street circuit’s umpteen chicanes, only a few laps after Russian independent Andrey Romanov had suffered the same fate in his BMW 320si. The track couldn’t be cleared in time for a restart, and the remaining 10 minutes of the race ran behind the Safety Car.
Earlier in the race, Huff had somehow managed to hang on to second place after being rammed from behind by the SEAT of Fredy Barth on lap 2. Barth’s fellow SEAT driver, Tiago Monteiro, took advantage of Barth’s over-exuberance to snatch third place.
Completing the top-six were Tom Coronel and Yvan Muller.
By finishing seventh and eighth, Norbert Michelisz and Andy Priaulx will hold the front row for the weekend’s second race; Priaulx snatched the all-important eighth place from Alain Menu at the final hairpin.
In the battle for the Independents’ Trophy, Franz Engstler took the spoils ahead of Sergio Hernández and local hero Mehdi Bennani.
Race 3 Final Classification (13 laps):
|1.||Gabriele Tarquini||SR Sport SEAT León TDI||32:12.815|
|2.||Robert Huff||RML Chevrolet Cruze LT||+ 1.117|
|3.||Tiago Monteiro||SR Sport SEAT León TDI||+ 1.792|
|4.||Fredy Barth||SUNRED SEAT León TDI||+ 2.436|
|5.||Tom Coronel||SR Sport SEAT León TDI||+ 3.513|
|6.||Yvan Muller||RML Chevrolet Cruze LT||+ 5.615|
|7.||Norbert Michelisz||Zengö-Dension SEAT León TDI||+ 7.900|
|8.||Andy Priaulx||RBM Team BMW 320si||+ 8.892|
|9.||Alain Menu||RML Chevrolet Cruze LT||+ 10.113|
|10.||Augusto Farfus||RBM Team BMW 320si||+ 11.959|
|11.||Michel Nykjær||SUNRED SEAT León TDI||+ 12.876|
|12.||Franz Engstler (I)||Team Engstler BMW 320si||+ 14.380|
|13.||Jordi Gené||SR Sport SEAT León TDI||+ 15.160|
|14.||Sergio Hernández (I)||Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si||+ 16.347|
|15.||Mehdi Bennani (I)||Wiechers Sport BMW 320si||+ 16.835|
|16.||Harry Vaulkhard (I)||Bamboo Chevrolet Lacetti||+ 18.057|
|17.||Darryl O’Young (I)||Bamboo Chevrolet Lacetti||+ 19.737|
|Ismail Sbaï (I)||Morocco Chevrolet Lacetti||8 laps|
|Andrey Romanov (I)||Team Engstler BMW 320si||6 laps|
|Stefan D’Aste (I)||Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si||2 laps|
[Image via FIA WTCC official site]