Stefano D’Aste, Pepe Oriola and Alex MacDowall jointly lead the independents’ trophy standings after the first round of the 2012 FIA World Touring Car Championship after a great opening weekend for the three drivers.
Pepe Oriola, in his second year in the WTCC started on the class pole position for race one in seventh overall and finished sixth to claim his first win in the Yokohama Independents’ Trophy. In race two, problems with the new engine saw Oriola start from the pit lane, but fought his way up to 12th place, which was seventh in the independents’ classification to pick up a vital two points.
D’Aste was involved in the first corner incident in race one and fell to the back of the grid, but did well to recover to fifth in the independents’ classification. Starting race two from the front, the 36-year-old Italian wound up fifth overall and with the independents’ class victory after the works Chevrolets had moved ahead.
“In the first race I was a little unlucky from the start because I got a very good start,” said D’Aste, “But in the chicane one of the Focuses was playing with the (rules of) physics as he missed the brake point and he braked on my car – so I spun and I couldn’t do more than 11th. The safety car helped me and I could be back in 11th position.”
“In the second race…the car was perfect, we found a little issue in the gear change in the first race and BMW Motorsport solved the problem.”
“I’m very happy because I (am) fighting for the independents’ trophy and for me winning the independent race at my home race is a very big pleasure.”
Also sharing the points lead in the independents’ category is British driver Alex MacDowall after his first weekend in the WTCC. The Bamboo Engineering Chevrolet driver finished second and third in the independents’ classification in the two races.
MacDowall was fighting the independents’ class lead with Norbert Michelisz late in race two before a mistake in Ascari saw him drop back behind D’Aste and Engstler and into third place.
“We now know what we’re up against,” said MacDowall to TouringCarTimes after the race. “I was mixing it up at the front there (in race two), it was when those two (Michelisz and Coronel) started slowing each other down one of the BMs (D’Aste) caught me up and to be fair he did a good move around the outside, and then I kind of got a bit boxed out and that let the RML train through.”
“Then I got back past D’Aste in the BMW, did the same move that he did to me, and then just going to Ascari I was on Michelisz’s tail and I accidently gave him a little tap and we went through there a bit sideways together and I had to take to the grass and that let the other two BMs back past me, so it was good racing.”