Qatar WTCC: Tarquini wins opening race in Lada's final weekend

Gabriele Tarquini took his second win of the season in the opening race at the Losail, leading by almost seven seconds ahead of the Citroen of Tom Chilton, with Rob Huff taking the fight to his countryman for third in an action-packed race.

Qatar WTCC: Tarquini wins opening race in Lada's final weekend
Start action
Podium: Race winner Gabriele Tarquini, LADA Sport Rosneft, Lada Vesta; second place Tom Chilton, Sébastien Loeb Racing, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC; third place Rob Huff, Honda Racing Team JAS, Honda Civic WTCC
Tom Chilton, Sébastien Loeb Racing, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC leads Gabriele Tarquini, LADA Sport Rosneft, Lada Vesta
Rob Huff, Honda Racing Team JAS, Honda Civic WTCC
Grégoire Demoustier, Sébastien Loeb Racing, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
Gabriele Tarquini, LADA Sport Rosneft, Lada Vesta
Mehdi Bennani, Sébastien Loeb Racing, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
Yvan Muller, Citroën World Touring Car Team, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
James Thompson, All-Inkl Motorsport, Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1
Yvan Muller, Citroën World Touring Car Team, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
Thed Björk, Polestar Cyan Racing, Volvo S60 Polestar TC1

Chilton started from pole position in his Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen and held the lead at the start ahead of Tarquini, while the Honda pair of Tiago Monteiro and Huff battled down the inside into Turn 1 for fourth, with Huff coming out on top behind the Volvo of Robert Dahlgren.

Drama followed for the Portuguese driver Monteiro, who had gone into the race with an outside hope at grabbing second in the drivers’ championship, when he made contact with Jose Maria Lopez’s Citroen at Turn 7.

The contact saw Lopez spun into the Lada of Hugo Valente, with both Monteiro and Valente out of the race with damage.

With Monteiro’s car heavily damaged and unable to move, the race was red flagged, resuming behind the safety car almost 15 minutes later.

At the restart, Tarquini charged down the inside of Chilton to sweep into the lead, while later on the same lap, the Honda of Norbert Michelisz came together with Dahlgren as they fought for fourth, which saw Dahlgren fall behind teammate Thed Bjork and allowed the Citroen of Yvan Muller past all three of them.

Tarquini continued to pull out in the lead lap-after-lap, while Chilton found himself defending against Huff, who now has a strong chance to secure third in the drivers’ championship after Monteiro’s retirement.

The fellow Briton was able to defend against the former champion however and hold on to finish in second position, with Huff taking the final spot on the podium.

Muller finished fourth ahead of Michelisz, with the Volvos of Bjork and Dahlgren in tow.

Nicky Catsburg recovered from an earlier incident with the Citroen of Mehdi Bennani to secure eighth for Lada, though his pass on James Thompson’s Munnich Chevrolet at Turn 16 on lap seven is under investigation.

Lopez made his way back up to ninth despite a damaged car, with Thompson taking the final points in tenth.

Opening race results:

PosDriverCarLapsGap
1 Gabriele Tarquini LADA 14 -
2 Tom Chilton Citroën 14 5.321
3 Rob Huff Honda 14 5.930
4 Yvan Muller Citroën 14 7.608
5 Norbert Michelisz Honda 14 9.070
6 Thed Björk Volvo 14 9.675
7 Robert Dahlgren Volvo 14 10.255
8 Nicky Catsburg LADA 14 10.871
9 Jose Maria Lopez Citroën 14 11.591
10 James Thompson Chevrolet 14 15.375
11 Daniel Nagy Honda 14 16.274
12 Tom Coronel Chevrolet 14 16.721
13 Ferenc Ficza Honda 14 17.227
14 John Filippi Chevrolet 14 21.173
15 Grégoire Demoustier Citroën 14 28.724
16 Mehdi Bennani Citroën 14 30.548
 R Hugo Valente LADA 4 10 laps
 R  Tiago Monteiro Honda 0 -

Neil Hudson / TouringCarTimes

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About this article

Series WTCC
Event Losail
Location Losail International Circuit
Drivers Gabriele Tarquini