Race 2: Tarquini's double

Reigning ETCC champion Gabriele Tarquini put himself right back in the hunt for this year's title with a double victory in the two races at Imola today. Having led home an Autodelta Alfa Romeo 1-2-3 in the first race, the Italian team pulled the same trick in the second race

Race 2: Tarquini's double

Despite having to start from the fourth row, Tarquini and team-mate Fabrizio Giovanardi used the superior traction of the front-wheel drive 156s to simply drive back to the front. The Alfa Romeo has been subject to some suspension tweaks since it received a drubbing at the hands of BMW in Spa. Even so it looked an altogether different car on home ground at Imola.

The BMW Deutschland 320is of Jorg and Dirk Muller took the lead from the front row, but even by the time they had reached the Variante Bassa, Giovanardi's Alfa was up to third and chasing hard. Jorg Muller then went wide over the kerbs, losing several places, before beaching his car permanently in the gravel at Rivazza.

Giovanardi took the lead from the remaining Muller into Tamburello on lap two, with Andy Priaulx trying desperately to defend third from Tarquini. He couldn't, and no sooner did he drop behind the Alfa than Farfus and Jordi Gene's SEAT also zapped by down into the Rivazza. As they came up to the startline, Priaulx was eliminated for good by an overoptimistic move from Oregon's Salvatore Tavano at the Variante Bassa.

By the end of the fourth lap Tarquni and Farfus were also by Muller and once again it was an Alfa 1-2-3 at the front.

All hell broke loss behind the red cars on lap five. Alex Zanardi lost control before the Variante Bassa, spun and slammed backwards into the outside wall on the main straight. As he did so he took Tavano with him, and the Alfa driver was then collected by Stefano D'Aste's BMW and Frank Diefenbacher's SEAT.

Cue the safety car and the chance for Farfus's weekly bout of cynical antics. As the safety car peeled in on lap seven, the Argentinian slowed to allow his team-mates to escape, while holding up Muller, Jordi Gene and Rickard Rydell. That was bang out of order considered the stewards, and although Farfus stepped up on to the podium, he would later be step down to eleventh in the results.

Up front, Giovanardi moved over and handed Tarquini an easy win. Farfus's punishment allowed Dirk Muller back up into third, no less than he deserved after two fighting drives, having started the day 19th on the grid.

The German still leads the championship with 93 points, but now his main challenger is Tarquini on 86. Priaulx's non-finish means that he is now third on 85, equal with Jorg Muller. With two meetings left it looks as if one of these four will win the title, and now that Alfa appears to have recovered its form, it's going to be close.

Gabriele Tarquini Alfa Romeo 26m16.027s
Fabrizio Giovanardi Alfa Romeo +0.709s
Dirk Muller BMW +3.206s
Jordi Gene SEAT +3.827s
Rickard Rydell SEAT +4.229s
Alessandro Balzan Honda +7.501s
Michele Bartyan Alfa Romeo +10.373s
Frank Diefenbacher SEAT +11.560s
Luca Rangoni Alfa Romeo +12.156s
Carl Rosenblad BMW +16.248
Augusto Farfus Alfa Romeo +2.714s
*Given a 30s penalty for obstruction behind the safety car

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Race 1: Tarquini's Alfa 1-2-3

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