Swiss driver Alain Menu took a long-awaited first victory of the 2010 WTCC season in the opening race at Oschersleben, handed the race win after his Chevrolet team-mate Robert Huff was black-flagged while leading.
It was a typically incident-filled first lap at Oschersleben, with championship contender Gabriele Tarquini coming off worst after being squeezed at Turn 1. He shot off-circuit into a gravel trap just a few corners later, and tried to limp back to the pits for repairs. But his race was done and he was forced to retire. Further back, Jordi Gené and Fredy Barth also lost places as a result of coming together on the opening lap.
Farfus dropped to fourth as a result of his contact, but quickly started to redress the balance, passing Tom Coronel’s SEAT for third and set about chasing down the leaders.
The Brazilian driver had closed on Huff’s second place, when the Briton was shown the black flag for his contact with Farfus. Once Huff had headed into the pits, Menu maintained enough of a gap over the BMW to take the win at the end of the 14-lap race.
Fellow Chevrolet driver Yvan Muller managed to pass Michel Nykjær and Coronel to take third place and final spot on the podium. Coronel finished fourth, while Nykjær managed to lose more positions to Tiago Monteiro and Andy Priaulx, who finished in fifth and sixth.
Norbert Michelisz finished in eighth place and will start the second race from pole, with the top-eight finishers positions being reversed on the grid. It was an impressive recovery drive from the Hungarian driver, who had started 15th after receiving a 10-place grid penalty for an accident he caused with Colin Turkington at the previous round at Brno.
In the Independents’ class, Kristian Poulsen survived a race-long battle with Sergio Hernández, taking top honours in the category and ninth place on the road.
Fabio Fabiani and Darryl O’Young also spent much of the race confined to the pits for repairs during the race, but both rejoined before the chequered flag fell – however, neither was classified as a finisher.
The race results were changed somewhat when a total of fifteen drivers were awarded 30-second time penalties for exceeding the 90km/h speed limit during the race’s rolling start. Tom Coronel’s penalty saw him lose his fourth place to Tiago Monteiro, and others penalised included Nykjær, Michelisz, Poulsen, Hernández, Barth, Gené, Franzs Engstler, Mehdi Bennani, Stefano D’Aste, Andrei Romanov and Yukinori Taniguchi.
WTCC Oschersleben Race 1 Final Classification (14 laps):
* Denotes a 30-second time penalty applied post-race for exceeded the speed limit during the race’s rolling start.
[Original image via FIA WTCC official site]