Giovanardi Wins First Puebla Race

Fabrizio Giovanardi dominated the maiden World Touring Car Championship race at Puebla in Mexico

Giovanardi Wins First Puebla Race

The Italian led every lap of the race from pole position, finishing ahead of countryman and teammate Gabriele Tarquini at the new circuit.

The Alfa Romeo pair finished nine seconds ahead of the rest of the field, which vaulted Giovanardi to third in the title race.

Giovanardi said: "Before the start I said I just wanted the win. With the ballast to start well was not easy, but I managed it. It is good news to overtake Tarquini in the Championship race, but it is more important we've made up points on the leading BMWs."

It had looked as if it would be an Alfa Romeo one-two-three, after James Thompson started strongly from the front row. However the reigning British Touring Car Champion faltered in the latter stages and was passed by SEAT's Rickard Rydell for the final podium position.

Thompson finished fourth, after staving off the BMW 320i of Antonio Garcia who finished fifth.

Robert Huff finished sixth scoring Chevrolet's best result since entering the series. The Briton's charge no doubt helped by the 10kg weight break given to the team before the weekend began.

Independent Roberto Colciago looked like he would be the star of the race. The Honda Accord driver had qualified on pole but was relegated to 11th thanks to the driving penalty he earned at Imola. He had worked his way up to fourth by the sixth lap. However he pulled into the pits with a gearbox problem at half distance.

Spaniard Jordi Gene had started well but crashed into the outside wall on the final turn of the second lap. The car veered sharply into the wall suggesting a mechanical failure for the SEAT Toledo Cupra. The car spent the rest of race stranded by the inside stranded after race stewards elected not to bring out the safety car.

The usual front-running BMWs had a nightmare race typified by Andy Priaulx colliding with Alex Zanardi. Zanardi spun off the circuit and rejoined, but Priaulx spent a lengthy time in the pits to repair the damage to the front right of his car. The pair were fighting for 14th place, a far cry from the pair's Imola form.

Title contender Jorg Muller didn't start after sustaining too much damage in practice yesterday, and teammate and Championship leader Dirk Muller oversteered at the final corner into the wall causing terminal damage to his BMW.


Pos  Driver                 Team                Time
 1.  Fabrizio Giovanardi    Alfa Romeo Racing   26:06.219
 2.  Gabriele Tarquini      Alfa Romeo Racing   +   2.172
 3.  Rickard Rydell         SEAT Sport          +  11.525
 4.  James Thompson         Alfa Romeo Racing   +  13.298
 5.  Antonio Garcia         BMW Italy-Spain     +  13.772
 6.  Robert Huff            Chevrolet           +  15.658
 7.  Peter Terting          SEAT Sport          +  18.554
 8.  Tom Coronel            GR Asia             +  21.880
 9.  Augusto Farfus jr.     Alfa Romeo Racing   +  24.487
10.  Nicola Larini          Chevrolet           +  25.072
11.  Jason Plato            SEAT Sport          +  25.390
12.  Stefano D'Aste         Proteam Motorsport  +  26.260
13.  Alessandro Zanardi     BMW Italy-Spain     +  27.351
14.  Giuseppe Ciro          Proteam Motorsport  +  27.891
15.  Carlos Mastretta       GR Asia             +  32.664
16.  Carl Rosenblad         Crawford Racing     +  35.650
17.  Marc Hennerici         Wiechers-Sport      +  39.301
18.  Dirk Muller            BMW Deutschland     +  5 laps


Driver                 Team                On Lap
Andy Priaulx           BMW UK                11
Roberto Colciago       JAS Motorsport        10
Alain Menu             Chevrolet              7
Jordi Gene             SEAT Sport             1

Fastest Lap: Gabrele Tarquini, 1:30.587 on lap 2
Colciago Grabs Pole in Mexico
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