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Marrakech WTCC: Nykjaer takes maiden victory in race one

Mikhail Nykjaer wins Marrakech WTCC race, 2013Michel Nykjaer denied Honda's new World Touring Car project a first victory by defeating Gabriele Tarquini in a truncated opener on the streets of Marrakech.

The Italian had led away from pole but soon came under heavy pressure from Nykjaer's Nika Chevrolet, which had slipped ahead of James Nash and into second as the field ran through Turn 1-3 for the first time.

Several times Nykjaer managed to pull alongside Tarquini on the straights, only for the Italian to resist his advances into the braking zones, but on lap six he finally found a way through on the run down to the final chicane to take his maiden WTCC win.

Nash also found a way past on the following straight, but had to cede position due to yellow flags flying as Tarquini's Honda team-mate Tiago Monteiro hit the wall and pulled to a halt at Turn 2 (pictured below).

That brought out the safety car and allowed the pack to close, with Nykjaer leading Tarquini, Nash and the RML Chevrolet of Yvan Muller.

The two Munnich SEATs of defending champion Rob Huff and Marc Basseng were also running well in fifth and seventh respectively, split by the second Bamboo Cruze of Alex MacDowall.

Tom Chilton had also been part of the group until lap six, when he was forced to pit due to overheating issues caused by damage when he and Muller touched in the opening corners.

With two laps to run the safety car finally dived in, but rather than attack Nykjaer, Tarquini was forced onto the defensive as Nash tried to find a way past.

That allowed Nykjaer precious breathing space, which he ultimately converted into a winning margin of just over half a second.

Tiago Monteiro's damaged Honda, Marrakech WTCC 2013Behind him Tarquini and Nash's struggle allowed Muller, Huff and MacDowall to close, with the five cars effectively running nose to tail throughout the final lap.

Nash prevailed to take his first WTCC podium, holding off Muller on the outside of the final hairpin.

The Frenchman's line gifted Huff an opportunity to steal ahead on the race down to the line, but the Briton fell short by just 0.024s. MacDowall was less than a quarter of a second down the road in sixth.

Basseng and Tuenti's Pepe Oriola made it three SEATs in the top eight, while Tom Coronel (ROAL BMW) and Lada's James Thompson rounded out the top 10.

Results - 13 laps:

Pos  Driver              Team/Car               Time/Gap
 1.  Michel Nykjaer      Nika Chevrolet       28m51.561s
 2.  Gabriele Tarquini   Honda                  + 0.566s
 3.  James Nash          Bamboo Chevrolet       + 1.612s
 4.  Yvan Muller         RML Chevrolet          + 2.224s
 5.  Rob Huff            Munnich SEAT           + 2.248s
 6.  Alex MacDowall      Bamboo Chevrolet       + 2.476s
 7.  Marc Basseng        Munnich SEAT           + 3.201s
 8.  Pepe Oriola         Tuenti SEAT            + 3.565s
 9.  Tom Coronel         ROAL BMW               + 5.270s
10.  James Thompson      Lada                   + 5.881s
11.  Fernando Monje      Campos SEAT            + 7.078s
12.  Darryl O'Young      ROAL BMW               + 7.879s
13.  Fredy Barth         Wiechers BMW           + 8.485s
14.  Charles Ng          Engstler BMW           + 9.298s
15.  Rene Munnich        Munnich SEAT           + 14.192
16.  Mikhail Kozlovskiy  Lada                  + 15.333s
17.  Franz Engstler      Engstler BMW          + 33.246s
18.  Mehdi Bennani       Proteam BMW             + 1 lap


     Tiago Monteiro      Honda                    5 laps
     Norbert Michelisz   Zengo Honda              5 laps
     Tom Chilton         RML Chevrolet            5 laps
     Stefano D'Aste      PB BMW                    1 lap
     Tom Boardman        Special Tuning SEAT         DNS
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