Chevrolet and SEAT were both caught out by punctures in the second race at the Salzburgring, with three of the four SEAT drivers affected and all five of the Chevrolets, which saw BMW take their second win of the year in two consecutive meetings, this time with Stefano D’Aste.
Despite no punctures being seen in any of the free practice sessions or the first race, eight cars suffered from front-left punctures with the most disastrous incident that of Alain Menu’s crash.
“I’m not sure why as it was early in the race and we didn’t have a problem in race one,” said Menu. “So I guess I must have picked some debris on the track but that was a bloody big hit.”
Alex MacDowall and Pasquale Di Sabatino of the independent Bamboo Engineering team also suffered punctures in their Chevrolet Cruzes, with MacDowall joining Menu in the Turn 9 gravel trap whilst Di Sabatino was able to pit and continued on to finish in 15th.
Tiago Monteiro was the first victim in the SR León 1.6T of SUNRED Engineering, going off on lap seven and scooping gravel in the corner and opting to drive into the pits and retire. The two Lukoil Racing Team SEATs of Gabriele Tarquini and Aleksei Dudukalo also suffered punctures and dropped to 14th and 16th after pitting for a new set.
Rob Huff and Yvan Muller both suffered punctures at the end of the final lap, both were able to cross the line in second and eighth respectively having been second and first beforehand.
“We thought we’d done our homework as we knew the challenge would be the front left tyre,” said Chevrolet Motorsport Manager Eric Nève to TouringCarTimes. “We were OK in qualifying and we were OK in race one. After the fact you can think that was due to the safety car phase in race one which we didn’t have in race two.”
“All the drivers I have spoken to said the tyres just went bang. Alain had a serious off, and Rob just got away with a little bit more luck than Yvan, as he had his puncture at the last corner and Yvan at the one before that.”
“What makes me worry is Portimao, because at Portimao we also have three right handers and towards the end the last one is a very long one. OK we’ve been there before, and we’ve punctured there before as well. ”
“Maybe we built up some overconfidence over the weekend,” Nève added, “As there weren’t any alarms before this.”
Rob Huff also suspects the safety car period in race one contributed to the tyres being able to last the first race, with all the Chevrolet drivers saying they made no set-up changes between races.
“I think the only difference between the two races was that the tyres got a good two or three lap rest in the middle of that race, and for sure I think that is the one thing that made a difference,” said Huff.
Ford were the only manufacturer with front-wheel drive cars not so suffer problems in the race, which was to the benefit with James Nash picking up points in race two as well with tenth after having fallen down the order early on and Tom Chilton close behind in second.
“We’re not working the tyre hard enough,” said Arena Team Manager Alan Cole to TouringCarTimes. “We’re still learning. We’re running what (tyre pressures) Yokohama recommend, as we don’t have the experience of everyone else, so we’ll run exactly what Yokohama say we should until we know any better.”