Huff scampered away to lead the second race

Robert Huff became just the third driver in the World Touring Car Championship’s history to win both races at a single round, holding out Chevrolet team-mate Yvan Muller for victory in another thrilling race at Monza. Engstler BMW driver Kristian Poulsen took his maiden outright podium finish.

But there was drama for the RML Chevrolet team before the start, with Alain Menu sent to the back of the grid when his team had to break parc ferme conditions to carry out the necessary repairs to his batter Cruze, with the damage earned courtesy of Muller punting him into the Lesmo barriers at the end of the first race.

While no doubt disappointed, Menu pragmatically dismissed the incident as part of racing, while race stewards would later take a dim view of Muller actions, and handed out a 10-place grid penalty, suspended for two races, for his actions in causing the Race 1 accident.

But Monza is among the easiest of circuits on which to overtake if you have a fast car, and Menu put in one of the best rearguard drives of his extensive career to climb through the field and finish fifth at the end of the nine-lap race. It was a remarkably disciplined piece of driving as he gradually picked off his rivals one by one.

At the front of the field, Huff would start from the front row alongside Race 2 pole-sitter Tiago Monteiro, who no doubt held hopes that he could pick up his second podium Muller swept by Monteiro to take second placefinish of the weekend with a good start.

But Monteiro’s getaway wasn’t quite as quick as Huff’s, and he was beaten off the line and fell to second by Turn 1, with Muller easing past the Portuguese driver to take second place and start his chase on Huff.

As in Race 1, Huff had to fight every inch to take victory against a very hungry team-mate in identical equipment. The Briton doggedly held the inside line at every opportunity, forcing Muller to take the long way around any braking zone if he wanted to get past.

But running off-line doesn’t help in keeping one’s tyres in a fit state, and on one lap approaching the Parabolica, he braked earlier than Muller expected and was hit from behind as the Frenchman tried to avoid replicating his Race 1 error. Fortunately both were able to gather it back up and continue, but Muller was shown the bad sportsmanship flag.

Nevertheless, he kept the pressure right on Huff all the way to the chequered flag, and just two-tenths of a second separated them at the finish.

The battle for third place down was equally exciting, and the race’s TV broadcaster was simply spoilt for choice as places continued to chop and change at almost every corner.

Monteiro quickly succumbed to Poulsen, while fellow BMW drivers Tom Coronel and Norbert Michelisz were also in on the action, with the Bamboo Chevrolet of Darryl O’Young also keeping a watching brief on the four-way scrap.

Menu would steadily work his way up and into the battle, and when a puncture struck Coronel on the final lap, his sudden loss of speed was enough to split the battle and give Poulsen the breathing space he needed to take the podium.

Monteiro crossed the line in fourth place, with Darryl O’Young finishing sixth and trailing Menu’s works Chevrolet home.

In a scrappy last lap, Michelisz held on for seventh place, while Javier Villa out-dragged Franz Engstler on the sprint to the finish line to win by two-thousandths of a second.

Gabriele Tarquini took the final point for tenth place – only by dint of Coronel’s last-lap puncture – but the SEAT driver was well down on straight-line speed and no doubt wishing that the SUNRED team would get its new turbocharged engine under the bonnet as quickly as possible.


2011 FIA WTCC Race of Italy Final Classification (Race 2 – 9 laps):

Driver Team Result
1. Robert Huff GBR RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 18:10.032
2. Yvan Muller FRA RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 0.242
3. Kristian Poulsen DEN Team Engstler BMW 320TC BMW + 3.559
4. Tiago Monteiro POR SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT + 6.211
5. Alain Menu SUI RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 8.896
6. Darryl O’Young HKG Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 10.089
7. Norbert Michelisz HUN Zengõ-Dension Team BMW 320TC BMW + 10.780
8. Javier Villa García ESP Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW + 11.054
9. Franz Engstler DEU Team Engstler BMW 320TC BMW + 11.056
10. Gabriele Tarquini ITA Lukoil-SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT + 12.800
11. Yukinori Taniguchi JPN Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 19.420
12. Pepe Oriola ESP SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT + 21.519
13. Robert Dahlgren SWE Polestar Volvo C30 Volvo + 23.532
14. Marchy Lee Ying Kin HKG KK Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW + 27.912
15. Tom Coronel NED ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW + 28.095
16. Ibrahim Okyay TUR Borusan Otomotiv Motorsport BMW + 48.069
17. Urs Sonderegger SUI Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC BMW + 52.972
18. Fabio Fabiani ITA Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si BMW + 1:27.890
19. Fredy Barth SUI Swiss SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT 2 laps behind
20. Mehdi Bennani MOR Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW 2 laps behind
NF. Aleksei Dudukalo RUS Lukoil-SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT 1 lap
NS. Michel Nykjær DEN SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT did not start
  Yvan Muller FRA RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:59.355

[Original images via FIA WTCC Media]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.