If we thought the opening race on the Moroccan streets – won by Gabriele Tarquini – was chaotic, then that was a portent of things to come for the reverse-grid race.
Having finished eighth in the opening race and with overtaking proving difficult on the narrow, chicane-riddled circuit, Priaulx needed to make a good start and stay out of trouble to assure victory.
Indeed, he only needed to keep a cool head as far as the first corner before the Safety Car make its first appearance of the race.
The other drivers clearly hadn’t read the script, with a pile-up at the start being triggered by Robert Huff’s Chevrolet, which spun across the path of Fredy Barth’s SEAT before slamming into the wall. Darryl O’Young tried to take evasive action in his Bamboo Lacetti, but only succeeded in taking out his team-mate Harry Vaulkhard and then the independent BMW of Sergio Hernández.
Gabriele Tarquini also got involved in the scrape, but managed to avoid major damage.
The Safety Car stayed out until the mess was cleared and peeled off into the pits at the end of the sixth lap.
Under green flag conditions, Alain Menu tried to pass Augusto Farfus into Turn 4, going around the outside of the BMW. Menu – an experienced touring car driver – should have known that having the outside line alongside Farfus is never a good idea, and true to form, the Brazilian slid straight into the Chevrolet, and both veered straight into the concrete walls at considerable speed.
Out came the Safety Car once again, and it stayed out until the penultimate lap, leaving the rest of the field to contend with a single-lap sprint to the flag.
Priaulx just managed to hold off Yvan Muller’s Chevrolet – almost collecting the wall himself – and Tom Coronel completed the podium in his SEAT, ahead of team-mates Tiago Monteiro, Barth, and Tarquini.
The darling of the partisan crowd, Morocco’s Mehdi Bennani, finished seventh and the highest-placed of the Independent Trophy runners.
Race 3 Final Classification (13 laps):
|1.||Andy Priaulx||RBM Team BMW 320si||36:15.763|
|2.||Yvan Muller||RML Chevrolet Cruze LT||+ 0.837|
|3.||Tom Coronel||SR Sport SEAT León TDI||+ 1.228|
|4.||Tiago Monteiro||SR Sport SEAT León TDI||+ 1.464|
|5.||Fredy Barth||SUNRED SEAT León TDI||+ 1.949|
|6.||Gabriele Tarquini||SR Sport SEAT León TDI||+ 2.395|
|7.||Michel Nykjær||SUNRED SEAT León TDI||+ 4.555|
|8.||Jordi Gené||SR Sport SEAT León TDI||+ 5.365|
|9.||Mehdi Bennani (I)||Wiechers Sport BMW 320si||+ 5.916|
|10.||Norbert Michelisz||Zengö-Dension SEAT León TDI||+ 6.109|
|11.||Stefan D’Aste (I)||Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si||+ 8.511|
|12.||Franz Engstler (I)||Team Engstler BMW 320si||+ 8.940|
|13.||Darryl O’Young (I)||Bamboo Chevrolet Lacetti||+ 2 laps|
|Augusto Farfus||RBM Team BMW 320si||6 laps|
|Alain Menu||RML Chevrolet Cruze LT||6 laps|
|Robert Huff||RML Chevrolet Cruze LT||0 laps|
|Sergio Hernández (I)||Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si||0 laps|
|Harry Vaulkhard (I)||Bamboo Chevrolet Lacetti||0 laps|
|DNS||Ismail Sbaï (I)||Morocco Chevrolet Lacetti|
|DNS||Andrey Romanov (I)||Team Engstler BMW 320si|
[Image via FIA WTCC official site]