Reigning European Touring Car Champion Andy Priaulx finally took his first victory of the season in the first World Touring Car Championship race at Oschersleben
Priaulx has come close before this season, taking five podium positions since the Championship was renamed the WTCC at the start of the year.
Pole-sitter James Thompson had taken the lead early on, but Priaulx inherited the position from his countryman when the Briton had to serve a pitlane drive-through penalty. The sanction was awarded because his mechanics were judged to have been working on his car after the three-minute board was shown before the start of the race.
Despite carrying maximum success ballast, Priaulx was then able to pull away as the rest of the pack battled with each other, and he had a comfortable 3.238-second margin at the chequered flag. The result moved him up to second in the standings, six points behind Dirk Muller.
"The new chassis is really suiting my style," Priaulx said. "I didn't think I could win with maximum ballast. I thought it was going to be possible for me not to win a race this season."
SEAT's Rickard Rydell finished second resisting late race pressure from the works-BMW pairing of Jorg and Dirk Muller.
Jorg Muller put in a storming drive from 11th. The German had secured pole position for the race, but was relegated to 11th on the grid after receiving a driving penalty after the last round of Spa following a last lap incident with Augusto Farfus Jr.
"I must say that it is really a good feeling to have fair fights on the circuit for once," Muller said. "We knew we were going to have a good car here, so I was sure I could get into the front group."
Rydell's SEAT teammate Peter Terting finished fifth ahead of Stephane Ortelli, who impressed in his first touring car race for ten years in the Team ORECA-entered SEAT Toledo Cupra. Despite a few off track excursions, the former Le Mans 24 Hours winner finished sixth.
Alex Zanardi and Jordi Gene will line up on the front row of the grid for the second race later today, as they finished in eighth and seventh places respectively. Gene's result also ensured that the new SEAT Leon scored points in its first race.
CLASSIFIED: Pos Driver Car Time 1. Andy Priaulx BMW 320i 22:05.714 2. Rickard Rydell SEAT Toledo Cupra + 3.238 3. Jorg Muller BMW 320i + 3.355 4. Dirk Muller BMW 320i + 3.640 5. Peter Terting SEAT Toledo Cupra + 4.808 6. Stephane Ortelli SEAT Toledo Cupra + 7.484 7. Jordi Gene SEAT Leon + 9.669 8. Alessandro Zanardi BMW 320i + 11.367 9. Augusto Farfus Jr. Alfa Romeo 156 + 11.911 10. Thomas Klenke Ford Focus + 12.265 11. Alain Menu Chevrolet Lacetti + 12.813 12. Michael Funke Ford Focus + 13.799 13. Gabriele Tarquini Alfa Romeo 156 + 15.434 14. Antonio Garcia BMW 320i + 17.343 15. Adriano De Micheli Honda Accord Euro R + 18.140 16. Marc Hennerici BMW 320i + 20.625 17. Nicola Larini Chevrolet Lacetti + 22.955 18. Valle Makela SEAT Toledo Cupra + 23.354 19. James Thompson Alfa Romeo 156 + 24.434 20. Stefano d'Aste BMW 320i + 25.346 21. Tom Coronel SEAT Toledo Cupra + 27.842 22. Carl Rosenblad BMW 320i + 29.236 23. Robert Huff Chevrolet Lacetti + 29.878 24. Giuseppe Ciro BMW 320i + 42.998 25. Sascha Ploderl Ford Focus ST170 + 58.353 26. Fabrizio Giovanardi Alfa Romeo 156 + 3 Laps NOT CLASSIFIED/RETIREMENTS: Driver Car On Lap Eric Helary Peugeot 407 9
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