Augusto Farfus broke through to take his first race win of the 2010 World Touring Car Championship season, as the penultimate round of the championship drew to a close.
The Brazilian was handed the race win on a plate when the SEATs of Michel Nykjær and then Gabriele Tarquini slid off the soaked Okayama circuit. Tarquini’s retirement means that the Italian will no longer be able to defend his World Championship crown, and Robert Huff finishing behind Chevrolet team-mate Yvan Muller also means the Brit is out of the championship hunt as well.
Muller has effectively had the chance of a second WTCC title handed to him on a plate, as Farfus’ team-mate Andy Priaulx crashed out of the race as well, leaving the Frenchman (who finished third again) to take a 38-point lead over Priaulx into the title decider at Macau. Should Muller finish on the podium in either race, he will win the championship.
But it was race-winner Farfus’ day, with the Brazilian delivering a more disciplined approach that he generally been missing in 2010, passing Norbert Michelisz and Colin Turkington early in proceedings to move up to third.
Third became second when long-time leader Michel Nykjær slid out of the lead, and he was followed two laps later by Tarquini, who slid straight into the barriers at the Hobbs corner.
Race one winner Robert Huff dutifully sacrificed his championship aspirations by deferring to Muller in the race, but in truth he needed nothing short of a DNF from the sister Chevrolet in order to remain in title contention.
It was a Chevrolet threepeat with Alain Menu finishing in fifth and again being shadowed home by Robert Dahlgren, who drove another impressive race in the Polestar Volvo to finish sixth.
Nykjær was perhaps left to ponder what might have been on his run home to seventh, with fellow SEAT drivers Michelisz and Tom Coronel coming home eighth and ninth.
Darryl O’Young capped off an excellent weekend for the Bamboo Engineering squad by finishing in tenth place and taking the outfit’s sweep of Independent Trophy class wins to boot.
The result – helped in no small part by Sergio Hernández spinning out of the race – now sees the Hong Kong based driver sitting just a handful of points off the Spaniard’s lead in the Independent Trophy championship race.
UPDATE: The hearing for the appeals lodged by Chevrolet, the International Court of Appeal annulled decisions taken by the Panel of Stewards on 30 October 2010 at the FIA WTCC event in Okayama that authorised the BMW cars of Augusto Farfus and Andy Priaulx to use sequential gearboxes. The Court excluded both cars from the results of the event, awarding Colin Turkington the race win.
WTCC Okayama Race 2 Final Classification (16 laps):
* Classification results amended due to the International Court of Appeal annulling the race finishing results of the RBM Team BMW cars following the successful appeal lodged by RML Chevrolet over the team’s use of sequential gearboxes for the Okayama round.
[Original images via FIA WTCC official site]