With victory in the opening race at the Slovakia Ring, Gabriele Tarquini has secured Honda’s first win since its return to the FIA World Touring Car Championship, leading a podium whitewash for the Japanese manufacturer with Tiago Monteiro and Norbert Michelisz completing the podium.
The Italian veteran has become the first driver in the history of the FIA WTCC to win for three manufacturers, in addition to winning in each year since the championship was re-formed in 2005.
With another bumper crowd in attendance at the challenging circuit, The Honda trio continued their dominance of qualifying with a formation 1-2-3 finish at the end of the opening ten-lap race.
The race’s rolling start saw the three Hondas set off in their grid order, and it remained that way for the rest of the race, despite Michelisz giving Monteiro a hard time for second place, while the Hungarian came under an equally stern attack from the RML Chevrolet of former champion Yvan Muller.
After making up four placed from his tenth-placed starting position, Tom Coronel finally pressured his BMW by the Bamboo Engineering Chevrolet of James Nash on the penultimate lap to claim fifth place, while Nash claimed the Independent Trophy win with his sixth-placed result.
Morocco racewinner Michel Nykjær earned more points with a seventh-placed finish in his NIKA Chevrolet, ahead of Alex MacDowall and Pepe Oriola, whose SEAT was the only one to finish in the top-ten.
One of the highlights of the race was a thrilling scrap for tenth place, which was ultimately resolved in Mehdi Bennani’s favour on the penultimate lap when he got by Stefano D’Aste. The Italian was then outdragged to the finish line by fellow BMW runner Fredy Barth, who beat D’Aste home by just five-thousandths of a second. James Thompson shadowed the trio in his LADA Granta, finishing a further four-tenths behind.
Tom Chilton was one driver who had a disastrous race. After mangling his RML Chevrolet in the morning’s warm-up session when he hit the wall, the Englishman’s race lasted little more than a lap. After making contact with Barth at Turn 3, he then spun into retirement at Turn 6 on the second lap.
Reigning champion Rob Huff also had a race to forget. After copping a ten-place grid penalty for the opening race, the Englishman gained four placed in the opening lap to move into thirteenth, but then lost all of those positions when his Münnich Motorsport SEAT ran wide at Turn 1 on the fourth lap.
2013 FIA WTCC Race of Slovakia – Race 1 Final Classification (10 laps):
|1.||Gabriele Tarquini||Castrol Honda Civic WTCC||22:18.761|
|2.||Tiago Monteiro||Castrol Honda Civic WTCC||+ 1.202|
|3.||Norbert Michelisz||Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC||+ 1.616|
|4.||Yvan Muller||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 5.091|
|5.||Tom Coronel||ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC||+ 5.975|
|6.||James Nash||Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 7.748||Y|
|7.||Michel Nykjær||NIKA Racing Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 9.760||Y|
|8.||Alex MacDowall||Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 10.078||Y|
|9.||Pepe Oriola||Tuenti Racing Team SEAT León WTCC||+ 14.055||Y|
|10.||Mehdi Bennani||Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC||+ 19.374||Y|
|11.||Fredy Barth||Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC||+ 21.434||Y|
|12.||Stefano D’Aste||PB Sport BMW 320TC||+ 21.479||Y|
|13.||James Thompson||LADA Sport Granta||+ 21.837|
|14.||Darryl O’Young||ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC||+ 24.891||Y|
|15.||Fernando Monje||Campos Racing Team SEAT León WTCC||+ 25.937||Y|
|16.||Marc Basseng||Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC||+ 27.197|
|17.||Robert Huff||Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC||+ 27.507|
|18.||Charles Ka-Ki Ng||Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC||+ 36.500||Y|
|19.||Franz Engstler||Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC||+ 41.278||Y|
|20.||Mikhail Kozlowskiy||LADA Sport Granta||+ 1 lap|
|21.||René Münnich||Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC||+ 2 laps||Y|
|DNF.||Tom Boardman||Special Tune Racing SEAT León WTCC||6 laps||Y|
|DNF.||Tom Chilton||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||1 lap|
“Y” denotes Yokohama Independent Trophy competitor.