Dramatic last-lap punctures to Gabriele Tarquini and Robert Huff catapulted the BMW pair of Andy Priaulx and Augusto Farfus into a surprise 1-2 in the first race of the Monza round of the World Touring Car Championship.
Huff and Tarquini had spent every lap of the nine-lap race in the lead, after Huff blasted past polesitter August Farfus at the start, and Tarquini making an even better start to vault from seventh to second into the first corner.
However, tyre management was to play a crucial part in the final act, as both Tarquini and Huff blew their front-left tyres on the last lap under braking for the Ascari Chicane.
Both drivers managed to get through the chicane and set off along the back straight towards the final corner, with Andy Priaulx’s BMW, Michel Nykjær’s SEAT and Yvan Muller’s Chevrolet closing them down at a rate of knots.
The remnants of Huff’s rapidly dismantling tyre blew out spectacularly along the straight, while Tarquini’s more circumspect approach saw him limp to the Parabolica before he was caught by the chasing pack.
But the yellow flags were unfurled for Huff’s tyre debris, causing the field to bunch behind Tarquini until they got to the green flag zone, by which point Priaulx was able to nip past and chase down Huff, who was making a desperate bid for the finish line. Farfus also swept past Huff, who managed to cross the line in third place.
Yvan Muller’s Chevrolet cross the line in fourth place amidst all the chaos, and he was followed by Tom Coronel (a great result from 13th on the grid), who headed a SEAT flotilla comprising Fredy Barth, the limping Gabriele Tarquini and Norbert Michelisz, who also suffered his own puncture on the final lap.
To say it was a chaotic race would be putting it mildly!
Further down the field, Mehdi Bennani’s 10th place finish – and race win in the Independents’ Trophy class – was stripped when he was awarded a 30-second time penalty for cutting the chicanes, promoting Harry Vaulkhard into the race win and his first WTCC Drivers’ Championship points’ finish.
Race 5 Final Classification (9 laps):
|1.||Andy Priaulx||RBM Team BMW 320si||18:32.008|
|2.||Augusto Farfus||RBM Team BMW 320si||+ 0.248|
|3.||Robert Huff||RML Chevrolet Cruze LT||+ 1.653|
|4.||Yvan Muller||RML Chevrolet Cruze LT||+ 1.820|
|5.||Tom Coronel||SR Sport SEAT León TDI||+ 2.271|
|6.||Fredy Barth||SUNRED SEAT León TDI||+ 2.308|
|7.||Gabriele Tarquini||SR Sport SEAT León TDI||+ 2.375|
|8.||Michel Nykjær||SUNRED SEAT León TDI||+ 2.726|
|9.||Tiago Monteiro||SR Sport SEAT León TDI||+ 3.243|
|10.||Harry Vaulkhard (I)||Bamboo Chevrolet Lacetti||+ 9.032|
|11.||Stefan D’Aste (I)||Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si||+ 10.000|
|12.||Sergio Hernández (I)||Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si||+ 11.575|
|13.||Andrey Romanov (I)||Team Engstler BMW 320si||+ 30.320|
|14.||Mehdi Bennani (I)*||Wiechers Sport BMW 320si||+ 33.972|
|15.||Fabio Fabiani||Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si||+ 59.155|
|16.||Jordi Gené||SR Sport SEAT León TDI||+ 1 lap|
|17.||Alain Menu||RML Chevrolet Cruze LT||+ 1 lap|
|NC||Leonel Pernía||RML Chevrolet Cruze LT||7 laps|
|NC||Norbert Michelisz||Zengö-Dension SEAT León TDI||7 laps|
|Franz Engstler (I)||Team Engstler BMW 320si||3 laps|
|Darryl O’Young (I)||Bamboo Chevrolet Lacetti||1 lap|
|Kristian Poulsen (I)||Poulsen Motorsport BMW 320si||1 lap|
* Denotes post-race penalty of 30 seconds imposed on Mehdi Bennani for cutting a chicane during the race and gaining an unfair racing advantage.
[Original image via FIA WTCC official website]
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