WTCC Qatar: Gabriele Tarquini wins on Lada's farewell weekend

Gabriele Tarquini marked Lada's final event in the World Touring Car Championship with victory in the opening race in Qatar, coasting clear in a fraught affair

WTCC Qatar: Gabriele Tarquini wins on Lada's farewell weekend

The Italian took the lead of the race on a restart after a red flag period, and quickly charged away to his 22nd WTCC win as second-place finisher Tom Chilton backed up the pack behind.

Reversed grid polesitter Chilton held his lead on a chaotic opening lap by beating Tarquini to the first corner, while Rob Huff jumped up to third despite being squeezed onto the grass by Honda team-mate Tiago Monteiro.

That move shuffled Monteiro back through the pack, but as the Portuguese attempted to claw back ground, his exit off Turn 7 brought him across the front-left corner of Jose Maria Lopez's C-Elysee and pushed him sideways into the path of the hapless Hugo Valente, who hit Monteiro.

The incident broke both of Monteiro's rear suspension arms - his woes being compounded as he hit a tyre barrier while sliding wide - and also forced Valente into retirement.

While the safety car was initially deployed, the race was red flagged two laps later with Monteiro's car stuck on the outside of the track having not been recovered by marshals.

The race was resumed a quarter of an hour later, with Tarquini immediately prising the lead from Chilton's grasp off a rolling restart with the Italian pulling off a great dummy move.

Tarquini shaped to the outside, forcing Chilton to dive deep into the first corner before swooping back inside the C-Elysee as Chilton outbraked himself.

From there the Italian raced away at the front, setting the fastest lap by more than six tenths, and though he backed off on the final lap he still eased home to a comfortable winning margin of 5.321 seconds.

Sebastien Loeb Racing driver Chilton defended far better in the remainder of the event to keep Huff behind him, Chilton ensuring his Citroen was wide enough to rebuff his compatriot's attempts to pry second away from him.

Behind Huff, four-time champion Yvan Muller steered his way to fourth in his penultimate race in the WTCC, while Norbert Michelisz claimed fifth in the second works Honda.

The Volvo Polestar S60s of Thed Bjork and Robert Dahlgren came home sixth and seventh - the latter scoring his first WTCC points since 2011 - with Nick Catsburg finishing a provisional eighth while an incident between himself and James Thompson continues to be investigated.

Muller's Citroen team-mate Lopez recovered to ninth after his involvement in the opening lap clash, ahead of Thompson, who completed the points.

RACE ONE RESULT

Pos Driver Team Car Laps Gap
1 Gabriele Tarquini LADA Sport Lada 14 46m16.258s
2 Tom Chilton Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen 14 5.321s
3 Rob Huff Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 14 5.930s
4 Yvan Muller Citroen Racing Citroen 14 7.608s
5 Norbert Michelisz Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 14 9.070s
6 Thed Bjork Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo 14 9.675s
7 Robert Dahlgren Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo 14 10.255s
8 Nicky Catsburg LADA Sport Lada 14 10.871s
9 Jose Maria Lopez Citroen Racing Citroen 14 11.591s
10 James Thompson Munnich Motorsport Chevrolet 14 15.375s
11 Daniel Nagy Zengo Motorsport Honda 14 16.274s
12 Tom Coronel ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet 14 16.721s
13 Ferenc Ficza Zengo Motorsport Honda 14 17.227s
14 John Filippi Campos Racing Chevrolet 14 21.173s
15 Gregoire Demoustier Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen 14 28.724s
16 Mehdi Bennani Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen 14 30.548s
- Hugo Valente LADA Sport Lada 4 Retirement
- Tiago Monteiro Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 0 Retirement


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