WTCC Qatar: Gabriele Tarquini wins on Lada s farewell weekend – WTCC
WTCC Qatar: Gabriele Tarquini wins on Lada’s farewell weekend
Gabriele Tarquini marked Lada’s final event in the World Touring Car Championship with victory in the opening race in Qatar, coasting clear in a fraught affair.
The Italian took the lead of the race on a restart after a crimson flag period, and quickly charged away to his 22nd WTCC win as second-place finisher Tom Chilton backed up the pack behind.
Reversed grid polesitter Chilton held his lead on a chaotic opening lap by striking Tarquini to the very first corner, while Rob Huff leaped up to third despite being squeezed onto the grass by Honda team-mate Tiago Monteiro.
That stir shuffled Monteiro back through the pack, but as the Portuguese attempted to claw back ground, his exit off Turn seven brought him across the front-left corner of Jose Maria Lopez’s C-Elysee and shoved him sideways into the path of the hapless Hugo Valente, who hit Monteiro.
The incident broke both of Monteiro’s rear suspension arms – his woes being compounded as he hit a tyre barrier while sliding broad – and also coerced Valente into retirement.
While the safety car was originally deployed, the race was crimson flagged two laps later with Monteiro’s car stuck on the outside of the track having not been recovered by marshals.
The race was resumed a quarter of an hour later, with Tarquini instantly prising the lead from Chilton’s grip off a rolling restart with the Italian pulling off a good dummy budge.
Tarquini shaped to the outside, forcing Chilton to dive deep into the very first corner before swooping back inwards the C-Elysee as Chilton outbraked himself.
From there the Italian raced away at the front, setting the fastest lap by more than six tenths, and tho’ he backed off on the final lap he still eased home to a comfy winning margin of Five.321 seconds.
Sebastien Loeb Racing driver Chilton defended far better in the remainder of the event to keep Huff behind him, Chilton ensuring his Citroen was broad enough to rebuff his compatriot’s attempts to pry 2nd away from him.
Behind Huff, four-time champ Yvan Muller steered his way to fourth in his penultimate race in the WTCC, while Norbert Michelisz claimed fifth in the 2nd works Honda.
The Volvo Polestar S60s of Thed Bjork and Robert Dahlgren came home sixth and seventh – the latter scoring his very first WTCC points since two thousand eleven – with Nick Catsburg completing a provisional eighth while an incident inbetween himself and James Thompson proceeds to be investigated.
Muller’s Citroen team-mate Lopez recovered to ninth after his involvement in the opening lap clash, ahead of Thompson, who ended the points.