Tyre gamble helps Coronel to first win

A inspired gamble on tyres helped Tom Coronel to score his first World Touring Car victory in a thrilling wet-to-dry second race at Okayama today

Tyre gamble helps Coronel to first win

Although it did not rain during the race, the track was still wet from earlier showers and, while most of the grid was split between wets and slicks, Coronel opted for a combination, with wets on the rear and slicks on the front.

The move paid dividend after just five laps when his petrol-powered SEAT drove past the turbo-diesel equivalent of Tiago Monteiro to take the lead.

The works SEATs had looked strong in the early stages, but all were on wets and it was clear that their advantage would not last when the slick-shod cars were able to keep them in sight.

But the damage to the Spanish team was minimised by a series of incidents that accounted for several of the BMWs and Chevrolets, with only Augusto Farfus able to sustain a race-long challenge.

The Brazilian was fourth at the end of the first lap, quickly found a way past Yvan Muller and Monteiro and then set about closing down the three-second gap that Coronel had built for himself. He caught the SEAT with a couple of laps to go, but despite a couple of lunges was unable to make a move stick and crossed the line right on Coronel's bumper.

Independent driver Sergio Hernandez finished an outstanding third outright in his Proteam BMW, his progress helped by avoiding a lot of the jostling for the minor point-scoring positions.

James Thompson went some way to making up for his late exit from the first race with a great drive from the back of the field up to fourth, ahead of Rob Huff and Yvan Muller, who lost several positions as a result of wheelspin on the startline.

Despite his relatively modest points haul, the weekend proved to be a valuable one for Muller's title aspirations, with teammate and main rival Gabriele Tarquini failing to make it to the finish for the second time this weekend. Muller now has a 14-point lead going into the final round at Macau.

The race also officially ended Andy Priaulx's hopes of retaining his crown when he spun into retirement three laps before the end while running second. It had already been a high-attrition race for BMW, with Alex Zanardi crashing out on the first lap and Jorg Muller skidding into the gravel on lap 9.

Pos Driver Car Time 1. Tom Coronel SEAT Leon 26:15.135 2. Augusto Farfus BMW 320si + 0.097 3. Sergio Hernandez  BMW 320si + 6.426 4. James Thompson Honda Accord Euro R + 7.207 5. Robert Huff Chevrolet Lacetti + 8.363 6. Yvan Muller SEAT Leon TDI + 15.576 7. Tiago Monteiro SEAT Leon TDI + 17.992 8. Felix Porteiro BMW 320si + 18.692 9. Rickard Rydell SEAT Leon TDI + 20.168 10. Jordi Gene SEAT Leon TDI + 20.265 11. Franz Engstler BMW 320si + 23.298 12. Nicola Larini Chevrolet Lacetti + 29.879 13. Alain Menu Chevrolet Lacetti + 31.540 14. Matthew Marsh BMW 320si + 35.782 15. Andrey Romanov BMW 320si + 42.163 16. Norbert Michelisz SEAT Leon + 42.284 17. Jaap Van Lagen Lada 110 + 45.991 18. Manabu Orido Chevrolet Lacetti + 51.511 19. Yukinori Taniguchi Honda Accord Euro R +1:21.839 20. Melvin Choo BMW 320si + 1 Lap 21. Masaki Kano BMW 320i + 1 Lap 22. Andy Priaulx BMW 320si + 4 Laps 23. Stefano D'Aste BMW 320si + 4 Laps Not classified: Driver Team Laps Gabriele Tarquini SEAT Leon TDI 9 Jorg Muller BMW 320si 7 Kirill Ladygin Lada 110 4 Alessandro Zanardi BMW 320si 1 Takayuki Aoki BMW 320si 0 
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