Yvan Muller wins the season-opener
|By Edd Straw||Sunday, March 2nd 2008, 18:04 GMT|
SEAT pairing Yvan Muller and Rickard Rydell converted their front row sweep into a one-two finish in the opening race of the World Touring Car Championship at Curitiba.
Muller held the lead from his Swedish teammate at the start, with Gabriele Tarquini running third in the early stages before being passed by the lead BMW of Schnitzer Motorsport's Augusto Farfus.
Farfus, who had fought his way past teammate Jorg Muller early in the race, pressured the SEATs to the end, but was unable to launch a last-gasp challenge for second as he was forced to defend from his teammate on the final lap.
"I wasn't convinced I would be able to keep my place in the race," said Yvan Muller. "The track temperature went up which was not in our favour and we were concerned about the BMWs.
"We knew in the last five or six laps it would be very hard. It was one of the hardest races myself and Rickard have done."
Despite coming close to taking second, Farfus complained that the performance of the diesel-powered SEAT Leon made it difficult to overtake.
"We had a fantastic chassis but we didn't have the speed and acceleration to pass them," said Farfus. "It's very hard to overtake."
With Jorg Muller settling for fourth despite his late challenge on Farfus, RBM BMW driver Andy Priaulx fought his way from 12th on the grid to finish fifth. He passed SEAT's Tarquini and Jordi Gene in the closing stages to complete a battling drive.
ROAL Motorsport's Felix Porteiro will start the second race from pole after finishing eighth ahead of the SUNRED petrol-powered SEAT of Tom Coronel.
But while SEAT and BMW filled the top ten, it was a bad day for Chevrolet. All three of their drivers - Rob Huff, Nicola Larini and Alain Menu - failed to finish after picking up damage early in the race, with Huff taken out when Larini collected him after suffering a mechanical problem.
In the Independents' Trophy, Pierre-Yves Corthals claimed victory after a clash with Proteam Motorsport's Sergio Hernandez on the final lap. Wiechers-Sport's Olivier Tielemans took second in class.
Pos Driver Car Time
1. Yvan Muller SEAT Leon TDI 23:47.024
2. Rickard Rydell SEAT Leon TDI + 0.763
3. Augusto Farfus BMW 320si + 1.234
4. Jorg Muller BMW 320si + 1.512
5. Andy Priaulx BMW 320si + 6.747
6. Gabriele Tarquini SEAT Leon TDI + 8.247
7. Jordi Gene SEAT Leon TDI + 8.710
8. Felix Porteiro BMW 320si + 15.564
9. Tom Coronel SEAT Leon + 16.334
10. Pierre-Yves Corthals SEAT Leon + 18.035
11. Olivier Tielemans BMW 320si + 22.871
12. Stefano D'Aste BMW 320si + 25.886
13. Franz Engstler BMW 320si + 30.859
14. Andrey Romanov BMW 320si + 46.658
15. Sergio Hernandez BMW 320si + 1 lap
16. Alessandro Zanardi BMW 320si + 1 lap
17. Ibrahim Okyay BMW 320si + 1 lap
18. Tiago Monteiro SEAT Leon TDI + 3 laps
Driver Car Laps
Robert Huff Chevrolet Lacetti 7
Nicola Larini Chevrolet Lacetti 2
Alain Menu Chevrolet Lacetti 2
Fastest lap: Priaulx, 1:25.100, on lap 10