The Race of Morocco was a weekend of ‘firsts’ in the FIA World Touring Car Championship. On Saturday we saw Gabriele Tarquini claim Honda’s first pole position, and in today’s opening race, Michel Nykjær claimed his first outright win.
In Race 2, it was another Independent Trophy driver who did the honours, and it came in the form of teenage sensation Pepe Oriola, who has promised much in his short top-flight career with SEAT.
His win came by dint of an opening lap pass on teammate Fernando Monje, and from there he stoked it home, holding off the RML Chevrolets of Yvan Muller and Tom Chilton to secure his first career win in the WTCC.
Race 2 polesitter Monje had a more fraught time of it, and quickly threw away his chances of a strong result when he tried to defend against a fast-starting Rob Huff into the final corner, pinching the Englishman into the barriers and instant retirement with broken suspension.
The Spaniard wasn’t done yet, and just a few corners later he collected the back of James Thompson’s LADA. Both were eliminated on the spot, much to Thompson’s disgust.
The accidents promoted Muller into second place, followed by the Bamboo Engineering Chevrolet of James Nash, but Nash was quickly overcome by Chilton and Marc Basseng in the SEAT.
Nash and Basseng continued an entertaining scrap for fourth place for the remainder of the race, which was ultimately resolved in the Chevrolet driver’s favour.
Up at the front, Muller and Chilton continued to press Oriola hard, but their progress was interrupted with another Safety Car appearance. This time it was triggered by a collision between Gabriele Tarquini and Alex MacDowall. The Italian launched his Honda over the Turn 13 kerbs and clobbered the Englishman’s Chevrolet, putting both into instant retirement.
The Safety Car remained out until the end of the penultimate lap, giving Oriola a single flying lap in which to hold off Muller and Chilton – the pair crossed the line covered by six-tenths of a second.
Fourth-placed Nash claimed the Independent Trophy win ahead of Basseng, while Tom Coronel was again the best of the BMWs in sixth place, holding off Race 1 winner Michel Nykjær. Franz Engstler, Darryl O’Young and Charles Ng completed the final points-paying positions.
At the end of another entertaining round in Morocco, the field now packs up and heads to Slovakia for the third round of the championship in the final weekend of April. Muller continues to lead the Drivers’ Championship table, now with an extended margin of 37 points to Nykjær and Tarquini, who share second place in the standings.
2013 FIA WTCC Race of Morocco – Race 2 Final Classification (13 laps):
|1.||Pepe Oriola||Tuenti Racing Team SEAT León WTCC||28:08.751|
|2.||Yvan Muller||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 0.430|
|3.||Tom Chilton||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 0.677|
|4.||James Nash||Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 0.948||Y|
|5.||Marc Basseng||Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC||+ 1.808|
|6.||Tom Coronel||ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC||+ 2.028|
|7.||Michel Nykjær||NIKA Racing Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 2.326||Y|
|8.||Franz Engstler||Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC||+ 4.377||Y|
|9.||Darryl O’Young||ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC||+ 4.889||Y|
|10.||Charles Ka-Ki Ng||Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC||+ 6.273||Y|
|11.||Mehdi Bennani||Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC||+ 6.349||Y|
|12.||Fredy Barth||Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC||+ 6.385||Y|
|13.||Mikhail Kozlowskiy||LADA Sport Granta||+ 7.037|
|14.||Stefano D’Aste||PB Sport BMW 320TC||+ 7.698||Y|
|15.||Norbert Michelisz||Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC||+ 4 laps|
|DNF.||Gabriele Tarquini||Castrol Honda Civic WTCC||7 laps|
|DNF.||Alex MacDowall||Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||7 laps||Y|
|DNF.||René Münnich||Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC||3 laps||Y|
|DNF.||Robert Huff||Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC||1 lap|
|DNF.||James Thompson||LADA Sport Granta||1 lap|
|DNF.||Fernando Monje||Campos Racing Team SEAT León WTCC||1 lap||Y|
|DNS.||Tiago Monteiro||Castrol Honda Civic WTCC|
|WD.||Tom Boardman||Special Tune Racing SEAT León WTCC||Withdrew||Y|
“Y” denotes Yokohama Independent Trophy competitor.