Salzburgring WTCC: Lopez extends points lead with race two win
|By Peter Mills||Sunday, May 25th 2014, 13:35 GMT|
Jose Maria Lopez extended his lead at the top of the World Touring Car Championship standings to 41 points after taking victory in a crash-interrupted second race at the Salzburgring.
Polesitter Gabriele Tarquini had to settle for second, ahead of team-mate Tiago Monteiro, as both men struggled to defend from the straightline speed advantage of Lopez's Citroen C-Elysee.
The appearance of the safety car on lap 11 for debris to be cleared only mildly assisted Lopez's charge from seventh on the grid.
The Argentinean already occupied second position when racing resumed, and slipstreamed Tarquini for the lead on the back straight on lap 13.
Lopez secured a 1.6-second margin of victory, and after paying compliments to his team denied any knowledge of involvement in a startline that resulted in team-mate Yvan Muller's retirement.
After securing his highest finish of the year, Tarquini downplayed the impact of the safety car on the closing stages.
Zengo Motorsport's Norbert Michelisz held off a four-car train headed by race one podium finisher Tom Coronel to take fifth place.
After being demoted five places on race one's grid for a yellow flag infringement in qualifying, Gianni Morbidelli rounded out the top six.
A start line accident involving opening race victor Muller and Lada's British drivers James Thompson and Rob Huff contributed to the race being stopped after two laps.
Muller had placed two wheels on the grass to the left of the pitstraight on the run down to Turn 1, after appearing to run out of room alongside team-mate Lopez.
As Muller rejoined the track, Thompson jinked right to avoid contact with the reigning champion.
The move resulted in Thompson touching team-mate Huff on his right, sending the Granta back into the path of Muller.
A chain reaction of bumps sent the two Ladas spearing across the track into opposing barriers, while Muller, who initially appeared to have escaped severe damage, forcefully clouted the wall on the right-hand side.
A separate incident occurred on the exit of Turn 1, involving the customer Chevrolets of Tom Chilton and Dusan Borkovic.
Serbian Borkovic was forced to pull up immediately, while Tom Chilton limped around to the final chicane where he parted company with his right-rear wheel.
Results - 17 laps (inc red flag): Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Jose Maria Lopez Citroen 51m59.898s 2. Gabriele Tarquini Honda +1.683s 3. Tiago Monteiro Honda +2.554s 4. Norbert Michelisz Zengo Honda +3.651s 5. Tom Coronel ROAL Chevrolet +3.908s 6. Gianni Morbidelli Munnich Chevrolet +4.466s 7. Sebastien Loeb Citroen +4.758s 8. Mehdi Bennani Proteam Honda +5.418s 9. Rene Munnich Munnich Chevrolet +10.074s 10. Mikhail Kozlovskiy Lada +15.288s 11. Franz Engstler Engstler BMW +27.754s 12. John Filippi Campos SEAT +34.568s 13. Pasquale Di Sabatino Engstler BMW +35.070s Retirements: Hugo Valente Campos Chevrolet 6 laps Yvan Muller Citroen 1 lap Tom Chilton ROAL Chevrolet 0 laps James Thompson Lada 0 laps Rob Huff Lada 0 laps Dusan Borkovic Campos Chevrolet 0 laps