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.

CLASSIFIED: 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 NOT CLASSIFIED/RETIREMENTS: 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 
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