Gabriele Tarquini lead home a SEAT 1-2 at the Slovakiaring, the Spanish manufacturer’s first 1-2 since Brazil 2010 and the first win for the brand new SEAT Sport 1.6 turbocharged engine. The win is therefore also the first petrol fuelled SEAT victory since Japan 2008 when Tom Coronel took his maiden WTCC victory in the non-factory supported SEAT León FSI.
The Italian was up to second at the start and overtook race leader Norbert Michelisz on lap three, though with slight contact to the rear of the Hungarian’s BMW, which saw him slide wide at Turn 3 and fall behind the two Lukoil Racing Team drivers.
“I knew that I must push very hard in the first few laps to overtake the BMW because later on the BMW normally is better on tyres,” said Tarquini. “It was quite hot with Norbert, he closed (the door) on me at corner number 3, and he brakes a little bit too early and I was just over the bump with the front wheel in the air, so when I braked I immediately locked the front tyres and then I pushed him. It was not too strong…for sure it was not on purpose, I was very sorry for Norbert. I wanted to give back the position but it was Dudukalo now behind me.”
The Italian also drove from seventh to third in race two to be the only driver to score two podium finishes today.
“The car was very good, and the engine was working very well after the problems yesterday. Unfortunately I had a lot of problems yesterday and without them I could have started on pole position.”
“I was really surprised about the Chevrolets, their pace was very good but on the straight they weren’t as fast as Marrakech.”
In race two on the final lap the Italian also made contact with his former SEAT team-mate and long-time championship rival Yvan Muller, sending the Chevrolet driver into an extreme angle, but the ten-time Trophée Andros Ice Racing champion was able to recover, as he had from a similar spin at Monza, to finish in second place.
“I could have passed him but it was not fair,” said Tarquini, “So I slowed down and let him recover the second place and my race was over.”
The stewards reviewed both incidents and judged the incident with Michelisz to be a racing incident, and no penalty warranted for the contact with Muller as no advantage was gained with Tarquini backing off.
Aleksei Dudukalo completed a good day for the new SEAT León WTCC, which was almost a SEAT 1-2-3 with SUNRED Engineering driver Pepe Oriola also in the top three before a puncture late in the race..
“In the morning Gabriele said to me ‘follow me’,” said Dudukalo. “I made a small mistake in the last corner and Pepe (Oriola) overtook me, so I followed him and then he punctured his tyre.”
Tarquini’s win puts him back into fifth place in the championship standings just two points shy of Tom Coronel’s BMW, with SEAT Customer Technology moving up to second in the manufacturers’ championship.