Gabriele Tarquini has broken Chevrolet’s stranglehold on the top step of the podium by winning the second and final World Touring Car Championship race at Zolder today, in what could be the Italian’s final race powered by the SEAT turbodiesel engine.
The crash-fest that was Race 1 saw a hastily revised grid for Race 2 after a number of competitors were forced to break parc ferme conditions to perform repairs to their damaged machines. The likes of Fredy Barth (the original pole-sitter for this race), Franz Engstler, Mehdi Bennani, Norbert Michelisz, Marchy Lee and Yukinori Taniguchi were all forced to start from the rear of the field, with Taniguchi’s damaged Bamboo Chevrolet sporting new door borrowed from the factory RML squad!
However, for Coronel, Barth and Lee, their weekends would finish before the race got underway, with the damage to their respective cars proving too great to overcome to take the race start.
Starting from what was now effectively pole, Tarquini fended off the trio of RML Chevrolets into Turn 1, with Robert Huff keeping close company. On lap 7, Huff had a lunge at Tarquini down the back straight and into Turn 5, but he made contact with the Italian’s SEAT, cut the chicane and seemingly slowed with apparent damage. Huff dropped as low as seventh, before recovering to cross the finish line in sixth.
This then left Alain Menu and Yvan Muller to fight RML’s hopes of making it four wins on the trot, but Muller would retire with mechanical gremlins. Menu could not mount a challenge on Tarquini’s lead, and crossed the line 0.4 seconds behind, with Tarquini’s SEAT team-mate Tiago Monteiro finishing a strong third, a further 0.4 seconds back.
Fourth place went to Darryl O’Young in the independent Bamboo Chevrolet, with the Hong Kong driver achieving his best-ever WTCC finish, made all the better by this being his debut race outing in the new turbo-powered Cruze.
Michel Nykjær finished fifth, having been promoted up the grid from his original second-to-last-placed grid slot when his rivals underwent repairs between races, with the Dane managing to hold off Huff.
Robert Dahlgren finished seventh for the Polestar Volvo outfit, while Norbert Michelisz took eighth place and top honours for BMW after starting from last place. The Hungarian passed SEAT rookie Aleksei Dudukalo with three laps to go, leaving the Russian to take his first WTCC points with ninth place. Javier Villa once again finished in tenth place to take the final championship point.
The result now sees the championship standings close right up, with Robert Huff leading on 70 points, although now just a single point ahead of Chevrolet team-mate Alain Menu. Tarquini’s win sees the former WTCC champion promoted to third overall, 19 points adrift of Huff.
2011 FIA WTCC Race of Belgium Final Classification (Race 2 – 13 laps):
|1.||Gabriele Tarquini||Lukoil-SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI||22:07.752|
|2.||Alain Menu||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 0.448|
|3.||Tiago Monteiro||SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI||+ 0.886|
|4.||Darryl O’Young||Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 1.614|
|5.||Michel Nykjær||SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI||+ 5.702|
|6.||Robert Huff||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 5.901|
|7.||Robert Dahlgren||Polestar Volvo C30||+ 12.352|
|8.||Norbert Michelisz||Zengõ-Dension Team BMW 320TC||+ 16.721|
|9.||Aleksei Dudukalo||Lukoil-SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI||+ 20.141|
|10.||Javier Villa García||Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC||+ 28.827|
|11.||Mehdi Bennani||Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC||+ 42.066|
|12.||Franz Engstler||Team Engstler BMW 320TC||+ 48.235|
|13.||Fabio Fabiani||Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si||+ 1 lap|
|DQ.||Yukinori Taniguchi*||Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 1 lap|
|14.||Pepe Oriola||SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI||+ 2 laps|
|15.||Urs Sonderegger||Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC||+ 4 laps|
|NF.||Yvan Muller||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||7 laps|
|NF.||Kristian Poulsen||Team Engstler BMW 320TC||0 laps|
|NS.||Fredy Barth||Swiss SEAT León 2.0 TDI||Did Not Start|
|NS.||Tom Coronel||ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC||Did Not Start|
|NS.||Marchy Lee Ying Kin||KK Motorsport BMW 320TC||Did Not Start|
* YukinoriTaniguchi was disqualified from 14th place due to receiving external assistance to rejoin the circuit after an incident during the race.
[Original images via FIA WTCC Media]
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