The WTCC event at the Hungaroring came to an happy ending on the second race, with thousandths of spectators standing up, cheering and waving national flags as Norbert Michelisz’s BMW crossed the line in first place.
Tue 03.07.12, 3:03PM
Earlier, reigning world champion and current point leader Yvan Muller had won the first race, leading home his Chevrolet team-mates Rob Huff and Alain Menu at the end of another dominating performance put in by the RML-built Cruze cars.
But for the enthusiastic Hungarian fans – 52,000 came to the track on the weekend – the climax was reached during the twelve laps of the second race, with Michelisz at the front, welcomed by stadium-like roars at every passing on the main straight.
In terms of the championship fight, Alain Menu has moved a little step forward compared to his team-mates. With a third and a second in today’s races, the Swiss has moved up to second, ahead of Huff, and closed a bit the gap from Muller (23 points).
Proteam Racing’s Mehdi Bennani was the event’s other hero. After claiming his best result ever in WTCC by finishing fourth in the first race, the Moroccan driver immediately bettered his performance, becoming the first North African racer to achieve a podium result in an FIA World Championship. The championship will resume at the Austrian Salzburgring, on May 20 for rounds 11 and 12.
RACE 1 – ANOTHER 1-2-3 FOR CHEVROLET
Yvan Muller claimed his fifth victory of the season leading home a Chevrolet 1-2-3 with Rob Huff and Alain Menu in second and third position respectively. Once again the Chevrolet drivers capitalized on their qualifying results and survived a series of incidents at the start that eliminated or delayed their most dangerous competitors: Gabriele Tarquini who retired, and Norbert Michelisz who was forced to recover.
Incited by the cheers of thousandths of fans, the Hungarian racer put in a great show and recovered up to the sixth position, just to lose it on the last lap to Tom Coronel who was also rushing from the back.
Mehdi Bennani achieved his best ever result in WTCC, by finishing fourth overall and also claimed his first victory of the season in the Yokohama Trophy from Michelisz, Pepe Oriola and Alex MacDowall. Tiago Monteiro delivered a brilliant performance, driving his SUNRED León car to fifth, his best result so far this year.
Start – Two different incidents occur at Turn 1. Tarquini tries to overtake Huff on the outside line, but they make contact and Tarquini retires. Menu and Bennani clash and collect Michelisz. O’Young, Engstler, D’Aste and Boardman are also involved and retire.
Lap 1 – Muller leads, from Huff and Menu
Lap 2 – Michelisz overtakes Wéber and Di Sabatino and climbs to ninth
Lap 3 – Michelisz overtakes MacDowall for eighth
Lap 4 – Michelisz and MacDowall overtake Nash and move up to seventh and eighth
Lap 6 – Menu tries to overtake Huff, in vain
Lap 6 – Coronel overtakes Wéber and Nash and climbs to ninth
Lap 9 – Coronel overtakes MacDowall for eighth
Lap 11 – Michelisz and Coronel overtake Oriola and move up to sixth and seventh
Lap 12 – Coronel overtakes Michelisz for sixth
D. O’Young: race incident; G. Tarquini: race incident; F. Engstler: race incident; T. Boardman: race incident; S. D’Aste: race incident; J. Thompson: overheating,
RACE 2 – MICHELISZ CLAIMS HOME TRIUMPH
Norbert Michelisz set the Hungarian crowd on fire, claiming a light to flag victory; his second one in WTCC (after Macau in 2010) but surely the most exciting.
Before an enthusiastic crowd, the Zengö Motorsport driver performed a masterpiece start and jumped all four drivers who where filling the first two rows of the grid.
Michelisz pushed hard in the first two laps and created a gap that made easier for him to control the race.
Behind him Pepe Oriola, Mehdi Bennani and Alain Menu fought an exciting battle for the second place that eventually saw the Swiss finishing behind the local hero and Bennani claiming his first WTCC podium ever.
Not far behind Tiago Monteiro put in a great defensive race. For the whole race the Portuguese was able to keep at bay three difficult clients like Gabriele Tarquini, Rob Huff and Yvan Muller. And this earned him a well deserved fifth place, his second of the day.
After winning today’s first race Muller, ended up making a last lap mistake that dropped him from eighth to tenth. A very rare occurrence for him, that must be credited to the incredible pressure that an unchained Stefano D’Aste was putting on him.
Start – Michelisz takes a great start and jumps in the lead; a collision at the braking point involves Ng, Wéber and Coronel
Lap 1 – Oriola overtakes Engstler and Bennani to climb to second
Lap 2 – Engstler drops to sixth losing two places to Monteiro and Menu
Lap 2 – Thompson goes off the track after colliding with Wéber
Lap 4 – Menu overtakes Monteiro for fourth
Lap 5 – the trio Tarquini-Huff-Muller overtake Engstler
Lap 6 – D’Aste overtakes Engstler for ninth
Lap 7 – Wéber is given a drive-through for the incident with Thompson
Lap 9 – Menu benefits of the fight between Oriola and Bennani to move up to second
Lap 10 – Bennani overtakes Oriola for third
Lap 12 – Muller makes a mistake to defend the eighth position from D’Aste and drops to tenth
C. Ng: race incident; J. Thompson: race incident
THE WORD TO THE WINNERS
Yvan Muller (Race 1 winner):
“I am pleased to win here. It is a great circuit with a nice atmosphere and a huge crowd. The race was tough, especially at the start, when I had to defend my pole position. The rolling start is easier for those who come from the back. Rob was on my side and I had to brake very late at the end of the straight to take the leadership. After that I tried to drive as best I could and take care of my tyres. I was pushing hard in the first laps to create a small gap and then the battle between Rob and Alain at mid race helped me to keep a safe distance.”
Norbert Michelisz (Race 2 winner):
“Today is probably the happiest day of my life! And I am grateful to all who have helped me to achieve this result. I don’t know what happened at the start. I did not expect to find myself in the lead after the first corner. Then I pushed in the first two laps to create a gap and after that it was a matter of keeping concentration. Fortunately I couldn’t hear the crowd! Otherwise it would have been more difficult. Actually a couple of times I looked at the grandstands on the straight, but I said to myself: don’t think about it and stay focused on the race. Winning a WTCC race here in Hungary is an unbelievable feeling…”