Robert Huff has caimed his first win of the 2012 WTCC season

Robert Huff has claimed a lights-to-flag victory in the opening World Touring Car Championship race at the Salzburgring, leading home a Chevrolet 1-2-3 ahead of team-mates Yvan Muller and Alain Menu. The Englishman withstood race-long pressure from Muller, narrowly avoiding losing the lead in an epic slipstreaming battle for the lead.

Conditions were baking hot in the Alpine circuit, and after securing a 1-2-3 lockout in qualifying, the RML drivers quickly pulled away from the chasing pack as the race got underway with a rolling start.

Huff withstood repeated attacks from team-mate Muller Unable to break away from his team-mates, Huff was lucky to keep his lead when he locked up at the first corner on Lap 3. Muller tried to capitalise on the circuit’s long back straight, drawing along Huff on the outside as the pair swept into the long Turn 8 right-hander, but Huff doggedly held the inside line into the following corner and kept his advantage.

Concerns over tyre life were given a brief reprieve when the Safety Car was brought out following a heavy accident for Darryl O’Young, with the Hong Kong driver destroying his Special Tune Racing SEAT against the barriers after an earlier collision with Stefano D’Aste’s Wiechers Sport BMW. O’Young was been tipped into the barrier by Engstler BMW driver Charles Ng, and the damage would prove too great for him to take the start for Race 2.

After three laps behind the Safety Car, the race resumed in earnest once again. Muller continued to attack Huff to no avail, while Menu kept a watching brief in third place, ready to inherit extra places should his team-mates strike trouble.

There was more late-race drama when Lukoil SEAT’s Aleksei Dudukalo and Proteam BMW’s Mehdi Bennani tangled at Turn 1 as they disputed the lower points positions. The Russian would retire with bent steering – which would need urgent repair so he could start from pole for Race 2 – while Bennani continued to finish last of the runners in seventeenth position.

Huff crossed the line just 0.3 seconds clear of Muller, while Menu completed the podium. Gabriele Tarquini finished as the best non-Chevrolet runner, holding off SEAT runner Tiago Monteiro, who showed remarkable pace given his less-powerful SUNRED engine.

Sixth place went to Bamboo Chevrolet runner Alex MacDowell, who claimed his first Independent Trophy win ahead of SEAT teenager Pepe Oriola.

Tom Coronel finished eighth in his ROAL BMW, benefitting from the Dudukalo-Bennani collision to gain a few extra points, while the top ten was completed by Norbert Michelisz (Zengõ Motorsport BMW) and James Nash (AON Ford).


2012 FIA WTCC Race of Austria – Race 1 Final Classification (14 laps):

Driver Team Result YIT
1. Robert Huff GBR RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 23:26.809  
2. Yvan Muller FRA RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 0.312  
3. Alain Menu SUI RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 0.739  
4. Gabriele Tarquini ITA Lukoil Racing SEAT León WTCC SEAT + 2.919  
5. Tiago Monteiro POR Tuenti Racing SR León 1.6T Sunred + 3.483  
6. Alex MacDowell GBR Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 3.774 Y
7. Pepe Oriola ESP Tuenti Racing Team SEAT León WTCC SEAT + 4.741 Y
8. Tom Coronel NED ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW + 6.923  
9. Norbert Michelisz HUN Zengõ Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW + 8.419 Y
10. James Nash GBR Team AON Ford Focus S2000 TC Ford + 8.914 Y
11. Franz Engstler DEU Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC BMW + 9.796 Y
12. Pasquale di Sabatino ITA Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 10.429 Y
13. Alberto Cerqui ITA ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW + 12.813 Y
14. Charles Ka-Ki Ng HKG Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC BMW + 13.178 Y
15. Gábor Wéber HUN Zengõ Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW + 13.983 Y
16. Tom Chilton GBR Team AON Ford Focus S2000 TC Ford + 16.756  
17. Mehdi Bennani MOR Proteam Racing BMW 320TC BMW + 18.390 Y
18. Tom Boardman GBR Special Tune Racing SEAT León TDi SEAT + 1 lap Y
19. Aleksei Dudukalo RUS Lukoil Racing SEAT León WTCC SEAT + 3 laps Y
  Not Classified    
NF. Stefano D’Aste ITA Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC BMW 5 laps Y
NF. Darryl O’Young HKG Special Tune Racing SEAT León WTCC SEAT 4 laps Y
  Fastest Race Laps    
Yvan Muller FRA RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:28.340  
Norbert Michelisz HUN Zengõ Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW 1:28.490 Y

* Race distance extended by two laps due to Safety Car interruption

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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.
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