Stefano D’Aste was ecstatic after taking his first career victory in the WTCC at the Salzburgring, and the first win for the German Wiechers-Sport team, but admitted after the race he didn’t know it was the last lap as he made his way past Rob Huff and Tom Coronel at the final corner.
“I did a good job with Tom (Coronel) in the first laps and got a little gap, but then the Chevrolets arrived…and they overtook us,” said D’Aste. “Then after some laps I realised they were not continuing to push and we were closing the gap lap by lap.”
On the final lap when Yvan Muller went off track with a puncture, and with Rob Huff picking up the same problem on the next corner, Tom Coronel, now second, was stuck behind Huff on the left side of the track and an opportunistic D’Aste managed to dive around the outside to take the lead and go past the chequered flag.
“I didn’t know it was the last lap,” said D’Aste, “I thought I had to do two very very quick laps as I need to build a gap, but the race was finished.”
“I continued to push after the chicane and then I asked to Dominik (Greiner, Wiechers-Sport Team Manager) ‘How many laps do I have to do?’, and Dominik said the race is finished, you won!”
The win is D’Aste’s first official win in the WTCC, though the Italian famously took the chequered flag first in 2005 at Spa-Francorchamps, but as he’d won after cutting the last chicane he was handed a time penalty which saw the win handed back to Fabrizio Giovanardi’s Alfa Romeo.
The Italian was also penalised by the stewards after this race, as he’d climbed out of his car on the slowing-down lap to celebrate with the crowd, and returned to the parc fermé without his seat belts securely fastened, though this time it was only a reprimand.
Despite D’Aste’s win and joint independents’ class win, with Pepe Oriola second and Norbert Michelisz third in class in race two, and with D’Aste suffering a DNF in race one, he remains third in the Yokohama Independents’ Trophy after Austria, 21 points behind Oriola.
WTCC Independents’ Standings after Austria