Huff stretches lead with Brno win
|By James Gent||Sunday, June 19th 2011, 12:10 GMT|
Championship leader Rob Huff scored his fifth World Touring Car Championship race win of the season at Brno after a terrific opening lap scrap with polesitter Yvan Muller.
Following a strong rolling start for both drivers, Muller defended hard from Huff into Turn 1, the Briton nearly taking to the grass in his efforts to avoid contact with his Chevrolet team-mate.
A second attempt to take the race lead at Turn 7 was rebuffed before Huff finally got the job done around the outside two corners later. The Chevy pair ran in formation thereafter, with just over half a second covering them at the chequered flag. The result means Huff now leads the championship by 38 points from Muller.
"I had one chance, and I knew I couldn't come to the inside because I thought Tom [Coronel] was there," said a delighted Huff. "For sure Yvan squeezed me - he squeezed me hard - but I wasn't going to lift. I think [Muller] realised just how far he'd pushed me and let me back on and that was that! We just proved then that we have got the pace this race weekend."
After a difficult qualifying session, fellow Chevrolet driver Alain Menu collected the final spot on the podium following a near-race long battle with a fast-starting Coronel. Having just failed to deprive the ROAL Motorsport driver of third into the first corner, Menu remained glued to the BMW before outbraking Coronel into Turn 1 with three laps to go. Coronel eventually finished a fighting drive in fourth, just ahead of lead independent driver Kristian Poulsen (Engstler).
Robert Dahlgren finished a solid sixth for Polestar Racing, surviving a grassy moment when his attempt to overtake then fourth-placed Menu around the outside of Turn 3 did not pay off.
Behind the Volvo driver, a titanic battle for seventh place eventually went the way of Darryl O'Young (Bamboo Chevrolet), with Norbert Michelisz (Zengo Dension BMW), Javier Villa (Proteam BMW) and Michel Nykjaer (SUNRED SEAT) rounding out the top 10.
SEAT drivers Tiago Monteiro and Gabriele Tarquini continued their difficult weekend in race one, with the former finishing 12th, over 25 seconds behind the race winner, and the 2009 champion ending his race at the first turn after contact with Nyjaer.
Results - 10 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Rob Huff Chevrolet 21m59.507s 2. Yvan Muller Chevrolet + 0.858s 3. Alain Menu Chevrolet + 11.697s 4. Tom Coronel ROAL BMW + 13.026s 5. Kristian Poulsen Engstler BMW + 13.772s 6. Robert Dahlgren Polestar Volvo + 14.353s 7. Darryl O'Young Bamboo Chevrolet + 21.288s 8. Norbert Michelisz Zengo Dension BMW + 21.584s 9. Javier Villa Proteam BMW + 23.436s 10. Michel Nykjaer SUNRED SEAT + 23.731s 11. Mehdi Bennani Proteam BMW + 24.146s 12. Tiago Monteiro SUNRED SEAT + 27.624s 13. Pepe Oriola SUNRED SEAT + 29.796s 14. Aleksei Dudukalo SUNRED SEAT + 34.209s 15. Yukinori Taniguchi Bamboo Chevrolet + 34.828s 16. Franz Engstler Engstler BMW + 39.038s 17. Urs Sonderegger Wiechers BMW + 1m08.893s Retirements: Gabriele Tarquini SUNRED SEAT 6 laps Fredy Barth SUNRED SEAT 3 laps