A coming together at Turn 2 between Chevrolet’s Alain Menu and Lukoil Racing Team’s Gabriele Tarquini ruined the pair’s first race, with a power steering failure forcing Menu into retirement and Tarquini forced to carry on with damage.
Menu had claimed pole ahead of Tarquini in a closely-contested qualifying session, and the two were almost side-by-side heading up into Turn 2, with Menu and Tarquini making light contact, which saw Tarquini slip down to fifth, whilst Menu was able to continue at least for another three laps until his power steering failed on lap four.
The Swiss-driver was just 35 points behind points leader Yvan Muller before the race, but after the DNF and a fourth place finish in race two, he now finds himself 48 points behind his two team-mates heading to the final three rounds.
“I’m disappointed with race one as I could have, should have won it, but I had this problem with the power steering that’s it,” said a disappointed Menu to TouringCarTimes.
“If I had not had this problem, it would be less than 20, so 48 is not great with three more race weekends. It’s not what I needed, I needed the opposite.”
The stewards ruled the incident between Tarquini and Menu a racing incident with no penalty applied to either driver, and neither driver held the other to blame for the collision.
“I spoke to him, I thought he had backed off, and in fact he had backed off, and I braked and turned in and he was still there and that’s why we touched. It was not a big touch,” said Menu.
Tarquini’s dropped behind the three Chevrolets and Norbert Michelisz’s BMW, but was able to hold on to fifth, which became fourth following Menu’s retirement.
“I’m not very happy about the first race as I tried very hard to beat Alain on the first corner, but unfortunately I had contact with his wheel and I bent the front-left,” said Tarquini to TouringCarTimes. “After it was quite hard to finish the race, my car had a lot of understeer but they guys were fantastic to check the car and put the set-up back (for race two).”
“BMW was more competitive than usual because of the track, but I was very close to Chevy, and I lost the chance to win again, as sometimes they are far away but this time they were very close,” added Tarquini.
In race two, Tarquini worked his way up from ninth on the reversed grid to third, keeping in touch with the lead battle between Chevrolet’s Rob Huff and Zengõ’s Norbert Michelisz up to the end of the race.