Championship leader Yvan Muller headed a Chevrolet 1-2 as the blue cars dominated the opening proceedings at Brands Hatch.
The Frenchman controlled the race throughout its 16 laps, keeping hometown hero Robert Huff at bay through to the end of the race. With the Chevrolets taking the top-three places in qualifying, the blue cars ran in formation in the opening stages, until Alain Menu elected to drop down the field to give himself a better grid position for the second race.
With the top-eight finishers’ race order reversed for the second race and with pole position offering a better advantage at Brands than perhaps many other circuits, the competition to secure the place was an idea not only thought up by Menu and Chevrolet.
The Swiss driver’s attempts to finish in eighth were thwarted by Andy Priaulx, who staged an impressive drive in climbing from 16th on the grid – having been demoted ten places due to an engine change – to 8th by the chequered flag.
Priaulx had earlier chased team-mate Augusto Farfus past the SEAT of Norbert Michelisz as they exited Surtees, and then lunged down the inside of Tiago Monteiro for eighth at Graham Hill Bend. The pair rubbed panels through the corner and again on the subsequent straight, but the battle was resolved in Priaulx’s favour when he finally took the position from Monteiro at Hawthorn.
Monteiro also could have clinched pole position, and lost out on it by just a tenth of a second when Menu and Priaulx slowed on the final lap.
One must pay enormous credit to Colin Turkington, who became the first Independent Trophy driver to earn an outright podium this season in what is proving to be a sensational weekend for the Briton.
Perhaps benefiting from not having to run as much performance ballast as his rivals – by dint of an interpretation in the rules that allows cars homologated over 18 months ago not to run it – he assured himself of the position with a neat passing move on the SEAT of Gabriele Tarquini on the inside of Druids for fourth place. This became third when Menu started his little slide down the order.
Such a result for an Independent Trophy driver is generally unheard of, and it also comes with the rewards of a fistful of bonus points in the Independent Trophy championship standings, which will do his standing no end of good, and certainly raise calls for a permanent drive in 2011.
Local driver Tom Boardman – making a one-off appearance this weekend – was the next-best of the Independent Trophy drivers, finishing fourteenth overall and just ahead of Franz Engstler.
Guest Brazilian driver ‘Cacá’ Bueno was the race’s sole retirement, with his Chevrolet pulling out with a dramatic fire in the engine bay on the eighth lap.
Race 11 Final Classification (16 laps):
|1.||Yvan Muller||RML Chevrolet Cruze LT||28:05.204|
|2.||Robert Huff||RML Chevrolet Cruze LT||+ 0.296|
|3.||Colin Turkington (I)||eBay Motors BMW 320si||+ 0.848|
|4.||Gabriele Tarquini||SR Sport SEAT León TDI||+ 2.615|
|5.||Tom Coronel||SR Sport SEAT León TDI||+ 3.158|
|6.||Augusto Farfus||RBM Team BMW 320si||+ 4.357|
|7.||Andy Priaulx||RBM Team BMW 320si||+ 5.170|
|8.||Tiago Monteiro||SR Sport SEAT León TDI||+ 5.295|
|9.||Norbert Michelisz||Zengö-Dension SEAT León||+ 5.505|
|10.||Jordi Gené||SR Sport SEAT León TDI||+ 6.103|
|11.||Fredy Barth||SUNRED SEAT León TDI||+ 6.460|
|12.||Robert Dahlgren||Olsbergs Green Racing Volvo C30||+ 6.988|
|13.||Tom Boardman (I)||SUNRED SEAT León TFSI||+ 9.405|
|14.||Franz Engstler (I)||Team Engstler BMW 320si||+ 9.602|
|15.||Michel Nykjær||SUNRED SEAT León TDI||+ 10.661|
|16.||Sergio Hernández (I)||Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si||+ 12.540|
|17.||Harry Vaulkhard (I)||Bamboo Chevrolet Lacetti||+ 12.979|
|18.||Stefan D’Aste (I)||Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si||+ 14.108|
|19.||Mehdi Bennani (I)||Wiechers Sport BMW 320si||+ 14.497|
|20.||Tim Coronel (I)||Team Engstler BMW 320si||+ 15.220|
|21.||Darryl O’Young (I)||Bamboo Chevrolet Lacetti||+ 19.150|
|22.||Alain Menu*||RML Chevrolet Cruze LT||+ 35.041|
|23.||Kristian Poulsen (I)*||Poulsen Motorsport BMW 320si||+ 40.148|
|Carlos ‘Cacá’ Bueno||RML Chevrolet Cruze LT||7 laps|
* Denotes 30-second time penalty applied post-race by the stewards for impeding rival drivers on the final race lap.
[Original images via FIA WTCC official site]