Gabriele Tarquini gave the Castrol Honda team its first WTCC win when he converted pole position into victory in Race 1 at the Slovakia Ring.
Sun 28.04.13, 3:03PM
In second place was Tarquini’s team-mate Tiago Monteiro, with Hungary’s Norbert Michelisz completing a Honda 1-2-3 by bringing his Zengö Motorsport Civic home in third place. James Nash finished as the leading Yokohama Trophy competitor, in sixth place overall in a bamboo-engineering Chevrolet Cruze.
The rolling start saw Tarquini, Monterio and Michelisz head into Turn 1 in the positions in which they had qualified and that’s the way it stayed, despite challenges from Michelisz on Monteiro and fourth-placed Yvan Muller on Michelisz. Tom Coronel spent much of the race pressuring Nash and the pressure paid off on Lap 8 when the BMW finally passed the Chevrolet. A thrilling four-way scrap for tenth position saw Mehdi Bennani pass Stefano D’Aste on Lap 9, with Fredy Barth then grabbing eleventh place from D’Aste as the cars crossed the finish line side by side.
Tom Chilton’s race lasted a little over a lap, with the Chevrolet Cruze taking to the gravel trap at Turn 6. Tom Boardman also failed to finish; the STR team was anxious to understand the cause of the engine problems that had dogged the SEAT all weekend and so told Boardman to come into the pits on Lap 7.
Gabriele Tarquini: “It was really emotional at the end of the first race. I regard this car like a baby; I am its father and Tiago looked after it for some races but now it has come back to me. It’s very important to me; sorry to the other two Honda drivers, but I really think of myself as the father of the Civic! The car is fantastic to drive; the tyre wear, braking and engine are all good. Acceleration and power aren’t quite as good as the Chevrolet but we knew that in a normal track we would be a lot more competitive than in the first two circuits. This was the first track where we have tested in the past and we knew it would be good. We improved a little in every session – for example, we discovered that today, on a demanding track with high temperatures, our car was good right until the end. We have to go on from here with our Japanese and Italian team members working together to be even more competitive.”
Lap 1 – Tarquini first into Turn 1. Contact between Chilton and Barth at Turn 3.
Lap 2 – Chilton into the gravel at T6.
Lap 3 – Huff passed Thompson for 13th. Munnich through the gravel at T10.
Lap 4 – Huff ran wide and through the gravel at T1. Kozlovskiy went through the gravel at the same place and into the pits at the end of the lap.
Lap 7 – Boardman into the pits and stopped.
Lap 8 – Coronel passed Nash for 5th. Monteiro sideways in T9 but recovered
Lap 9 – Bennani passed D’Aste for 10th. Thompson passed Barth for 12th but Barth then re-took the place.
Lap 10 – Tarquini took the win. Barth snatched 11th from D’Aste on the line.