Suzuka WTCC: Stefano D'Aste takes lights to flag race two win
|By Peter Mills||Sunday, October 21st 2012, 08:27 GMT|
Stefano D'Aste claimed a second World Touring Car Championship career victory with a faultless drive from reverse-grid pole at Suzuka.
The Wiechers-Sport driver led a train of seven cars for much of the race on Suzuka's short East circuit, before staging a late break to extend a 2.5-second winning margin over Pepe Oriola.
The style of D'Aste's success was in contrast to his maiden win at Salzburging earlier this season, where he was assisted by a series of last-lap incidents to snatch the lead at the final corner.
D'Aste's only drama in Japan came at the start of lap six, when a minor error allowed front row starter Oriola to challenge for the lead onto the pits straight.
The Spanish teenager forced D'Aste to defend towards the pitwall, but on a circuit where overtaking proved scarce this weekend, Oriola was unable to find an opening.
A determined effort by Gabriele Tarquini to take second place distracted Oriola from attacking for the win. Lukoil racer Tarquini tapped Oriola sideways at Turn 1 on lap 18, but the Honda-bound driver was forced to settle for third.
The difficulty in passing at Suzuka was highlighted by the slow progress of the usually dominant factory Chevrolets in working their way up the order. Starting from eighth to 10th positions, Rob Huff was the highest-placed of the blue cars at the finish in sixth, ahead of team-mates Alain Menu and Yvan Muller.
Significantly for the drivers' standings, race one victor Menu passed Muller on the opening lap. After 20 races, Muller and Huff are once again tied at the head of the points table, on 345, with Menu 38 points adrift in third.
Mehdi Bennani kept the Chevrolets at bay for a lengthy period. The Moroccan was demoted by Huff and Menu on the exit of Turn 1 two laps from home, before Muller bumped the Proteam BMW driver down to seventh on the last lap.
It was another bad day for Independents points leader Norbert Michelisz. The Hungarian was punted into an accident at the exit of Turn 1 on the opening lap, and his failure to score reduces his points lead over Oriola from 25 entering the meeting to 12.
Tiago Monteiro repeated his race one result of 10th on the maiden race weekend of the JAS-run factory Honda Civic.
Last year's Suzuka victor Tom Coronel dropped out of contention with an extremely poor getaway from the second row. The Dutchman could only recover to 15th in his ROAL Motorsport BMW.
Results - 26 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Stefano D'Aste Wiechers BMW 23m54.717s 2. Pepe Oriola Tuenti SEAT + 2.562s 3. Gabriele Tarquini Lukoil SEAT + 2.845s 4. Rob Huff Chevrolet + 3.774s 5. Alain Menu Chevrolet + 4.220s 6. Yvan Muller Chevrolet + 4.568s 7. Mehdi Bennani Proteam BMW + 4.879s 8. Aleksei Dudukalo Lukoil SEAT + 7.174s 9. Alex MacDowall Bamboo Chevrolet + 7.707s 10. Tiago Monteiro Honda + 10.583s 11. Franz Engstler Engstler BMW + 11.997s 12. Tom Boardman Special Tuning SEAT + 18.156s 13. Darryl O'Young Bamboo Chevrolet + 18.945s 14. Alberto Cerqui ROAL BMW + 19.154s 15. Tom Coronel ROAL BMW + 19.492s 16. James Nash Arena Ford + 25.856s 17. Charles Ng Engstler BMW + 25.857s 18. Tom Chilton Arena Ford + 26.142s 19. Hiroki Yoshimoto Tuenti SEAT + 34.762s 20. Rene Munnich Special Tuning SEAT + 35.074s 21. Masaki Kano Engstler BMW + 40.576s Retirements: Fernando Monje Tuenti SEAT 18 laps Norbert Michelisz Zengo BMW 0 laps