Yvan Muller has secured a lights-to-flag victory in the opening World Touring Car Championship race at Porto, leading home a Chevrolet 1-2-3-4 in an incident-filled race.
There was action from the get-go when the rolling start got underway. While Muller assumed the lead with RML teammate Tom Chilton dutifully slotting in behind him, with Michel Nykjær keeping a watching brief in third.
Behind the leading trio, Gabriele Tarquini jumped fellow Honda runner Norbert Michelisz to claim fourth place, with the Hungarian quickly losing fifth place to Pepe Oriola, who was having his first race outing in a Chevrolet this weekend.
The field hadn’t even completed the first lap of the race when series returnee Tom Boardman locked up at Turn 6, sliding into the side of an innocent Mehdi Bennani and tipping the Moroccan into a spin, which dropped him to last place.
On the second lap, disaster befell Michelisz. The Honda driver slid wide at Turn 13 and slapped the wall, leading to his retirement from the race.
And it quickly became a double-whammy for Honda, with Tarquini pulling off at the same corner six laps later with a turbo issue not too dissimilar to the same problem that struck his teammate Tiago Monteiro in practice on Saturday.
Two laps later came a moment of high farce. A recovery vehicle was circulating the track and a train of cars came upon it with next to no warning at Turn 12. Fredy Barth pitched his BMW into a spin to avoid it, but Franz Engstler – in an accident bizarrely reminiscent of his 2009 collision with the safety car at Pau – was totally blindsided, and slammed into the rear of the truck after a helpful tap from behind by Hugo Valente, causing heavy front-end damage to his car.
This incident brought out the safety car for two laps while the wreckage was cleared. When racing resumed for the final sprint to the line, the leading four Chevrolets skipped clear of the chasing Rob Huff and James Thompson, while late charges from Tom Coronel and Stefano D’Aste allowed them to force their way by Marc Basseng, who slipped to tenth place behind crowd favourite Tiago Monteiro, who gained eight places from his lowly grid position at the end of the race.
Race 2 gets underway at 17:05 WET/18:05 CET, where Bamboo Engineering Chevrolet driver James Nash will target claiming his second win of the season from pole position. He will start alongside Marc Basseng’s SEAT.
2013 FIA WTCC Race of Portugal – Race 1 Final Classification (12 laps):
|1.||Yvan Muller||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||27:38.637|
|2.||Tom Chilton||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 0.343|
|3.||Michel Nykjær||NIKA Racing Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 0.665||Y|
|4.||Pepe Oriola||Tuenti Racing Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 1.318||Y|
|5.||Robert Huff||Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC||+ 2.493|
|6.||James Thompson||LADA Sport Granta||+ 3.662|
|7.||Tom Coronel||ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC||+ 6.333|
|8.||Stefano D’Aste||PB Sport BMW 320TC||+ 6.416||Y|
|9.||Tiago Monteiro||Castrol Honda Civic WTCC||+ 6.977|
|10.||Marc Basseng||Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC||+ 7.576|
|11.||James Nash||Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 10.632||Y|
|12.||Darryl O’Young||ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC||+ 11.014||Y|
|13.||Alex MacDowall||Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 11.953||Y|
|14.||Charles Ka-Ki Ng||Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC||+ 12.291||Y|
|15.||Fernando Monje||Campos Racing Team SEAT León WTCC||+ 12.842||Y|
|16.||Nikolai Karamyshev||Campos Racing Team SEAT León WTCC||+ 13.234||Y|
|17.||Fredy Barth||Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC||+ 13.376||Y|
|18.||Hugo Valente*||Campos Racing Team SEAT León WTCC||+ 41.485||Y|
|19.||Mikhail Kozlowskiy*||LADA Sport Granta||+ 1:03.630|
|20.||Tom Boardman*||Special Tune Racing SEAT León WTCC||+ 1 lap||Y|
|21.||Franz Engstler||Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC||+ 3 laps||Y|
|DNF.||René Münnich||Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC||8 laps||Y|
|DNF.||Gabriele Tarquini||Castrol Honda Civic WTCC||7 laps|
|DNF.||Mehdi Bennani||Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC||3 laps||Y|
|DNF.||Norbert Michelisz||Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC||1 lap|
“Y” denotes Yokohama Independent Trophy competitor.
* Hugo Valente was issued with a thirty-second post-race time penalty and a ten-place grid penalty for the next round for ignoring yellow flags and causing an avoidable collision. Mikhail Kozlovskiy and René Münnich were punished for speeding at the rolling start. The Russian received a 30-second time penalty, the German (who was not classified) a 10-position grid penalty that remains suspended for three events. Tom Boardman was given a 30-second time penalty plus a 10-position grid penalty that remains suspended for three events for causing the incident with Mehdi Bennani.
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