Gabriele Tarquini returned to the lead of the FIA World Touring Car Cup championship standings by claiming victory in the second race at the Slovakia Ring. The Italian and his BRC Racing Hyundai led home the Zengõ Motorsport Cupra of Norbert Nagy – who claimed his and the team’s first podium finish in the series – and the YMR Hyundai of Yvan Muller.
The start of Saturday’s late afternoon race was delayed amid controversy after three of the Honda entries – Benjamin Lessennes, Esteban Guerrieri and Tom Coronel – were initially stripped of their qualifying results due to a boost violation.
Unlike their rival Hyundai runners who opted to cop back-of-the-grid starts for their drivers in Race 1, the affected Münnich Motorsport and Boutsen Ginion Racing teams immediately lodged an appeal and were reinstated. Coronel would, however, fail to take the start when his Honda suffered a damper failure.
With the top-ten qualifiers from Saturday’s earlier qualifying session starting in reverse order, Nagy held pole position from Tarquini.
Tarquini did not repeat his poor start in Race 1 that saw him drop from pole position to fourth by Turn 1 and instead beat Nagy off the line, with the Hungarian tucking in behind the Hyundai at Turn 3 after running side-by-side with the veteran through the high-speed right-handers at Turns 1 and 2.
The best getaway of all was made by Muller, who launched from seventh on the grid into third place.
Race 1 winner Pepe Oriola overtook Frédéric Vervisch’s Comtoyou Audi and moved up to fourth place in his Campos Racing Cupra, with Benjamin Lessennes in the Honda slipping past Vervisch on the following lap to move into fifth.
Vervischwas unable to sustain the pace of those around him and dropped two further placed behind the second campos Racing Cupra of John Filippi and Tarquini’s teammate Norbert Michelisz. He would ultimately finish eighth ahead of the two Münnich Hondas of Esteban Guerrieri and Yann Ehrlacher.
Up front, Tarquini steadily pulled away from Nagy, who was left to fend off Muller. The Hungarian youngster drove admirably, holding off the four-time WTCC title-winner to the chequered flag for a career-best result.
Tarquini’s victory moves him three points ahead of Muller in the Drivers’ Championship standings, while third-placed Ehrlacher slips further adrift and is now 31 points behind.
The results of the race remain provisional until a ruling on the appeal from Boutsen Ginion and Münnich Motorsport, which could see Lessennes (fifth) and Guerrieri (ninth) excluded from the results.
The third and final race of the weekend takes place at 11:45 on Sunday (GMT +2), with Norbert Michelisz starting from pole position.
|2018 FIA World Touring Car Cup Race of Slovakia – Race 2 Final Classification (9 laps)|
|1.||Gabriele Tarquini||BRC Racing Team||9||19:54.840||25|
|2.||Norbert Nagy||Zengõ Motorsport||9||+ 2.150||18|
|3.||Yvan Muller||MRacing – YMR||9||+ 3.354||15|
|4.||Pepe Oriola||Team OSCARO by Campos Racing||9||+ 4.750||12|
|5.||Benjamin Lessennes||Boutsen Ginion Racing||9||+ 5.313||10|
|6.||John Filippi||Team OSCARO by Campos Racing||9||+ 5.892||8|
|7.||Norbert Michelisz||BRC Racing Team||9||+ 5.895||6|
|8.||Frédéric Vervisch||Audi Sport Team Comtoyou||9||+ 13.578||4|
|9.||Esteban Guerrieri||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||9||+ 14.194||2|
|10.||Yann Ehrlacher||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||9||+ 14.540||1|
|11.||Thed Björk||MRacing – YMR||9||+ 14.851|
|12.||Kevin Ceccon||Mulsanne SRL||9||+ 15.084|
|13.||Nathanaël Berthon||Comtoyou Racing||9||+ 15.300|
|14.||Aurélien Comte||DG Sport Compétition||9||+ 18.201|
|15.||Fabrizio Giovanardi||Mulsanne SRL||9||+ 18.330|
|16.||Gordon Shedden||Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team||9||+ 21.177|
|17.||Mat’o Homola||DG Sport Compétition||9||+ 21.606|
|18.||Denis Dupont||Comtoyou Racing||9||+ 28.527|
|19.||Andrej Studenič||Brutal Fish Racing||9||+ 28.904|
|20.||Zsolt Dávid Szabó||Zengõ Motorsport||9||+ 30.283|
|21.||Petr Fulín||Fullin Race Academy||8||+ 1 lap|
|DNF.||Mehdi Bennani||Sébastien Loeb Racing||5||Retired|
|DNF.||Rob Huff||Sébastien Loeb Racing||5||Retired|
|DNF.||Aurélien Panis||Comtoyou Racing||5||Damage|
|DNF.||Jean-Karl Vernay||Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team||5||Brakes|
|DNS.||Tom Coronel||Boutsen Ginion Racing||0||Damper|
* Post-Race Penalties:
- Zsolt Dávid Szabó was issued a 10-second post-race time penalty for causing avoidable contact with Gordon Shedden and Mat’o Homola.
- Aurélien Panis was issued a 5-place grid penalty for Race 3 for causing avoidable contact with Petr Fulín.
Images via FIA WTCR Media