Franz Engstler takes shock victory at Oschersleben
Independent BMW driver Franz Engstler has taken his first career victory in the World Touring Car Championship at Oschersleben, finishing ahead of Alain Menu and Gabriele Tarquini.
Engstler had started from pole position but had a relatively slow start compared to the Zengö Motorsport BMW 320 TC of Norbert Michelisz on the row behind him. Into the first corner, Michelisz held the lead with Engstler second and Tiago Monteiro’s SUNRED down to third.
The safety car was called as the debris was collected from a crash at the start between the BMWs of Mehdi Bennani and Kristian Poulsen. Both drivers had great starts, but Bennani had moved to the inside whilst he was following the equally fast starting BMW of Stefano D’Aste, and made contact with Poulsen. The two cars hit the wall and were out of the race instantly.
At the restart, Alain Menu took third from Tiago Monteiro, with Monteiro’s SUNRED team-mate passing him on the following lap.
On lap six, Tom Coronel also overtook the Portuguese driver, whilst Huff also tried to move down the inside but the two made contact. This allowed Yvan Muller’s Chevrolet past the pair of them and into sixth.
On lap eight, it was a disaster for Norbert Michelisz. The Hungarian driver spun his BMW out of the lead and back into fifth place behind Tom Coronel. This gave Franz Engstler the lead ahead of Alain Menu.
Michelisz passed Coronel on the following lap with Yvan Muller also getting past, but on lap 10, Muller made slight contact with the rear of Michelisz sending him wide. Muller darted up the inside into fourth at Turn 14, whilst Coronel lined up to pass Michelisz down the left hand side into Turn 1. Neither driver gave way, which saw Michelisz’s BMW buried into the tyre wall at the first corner.
A slide from Yvan Muller released Coronel, who chased down Tarquini for third, crossing the line side-by-side to finish just 0.031s behind.
Engstler went on to take the win, and the first win for an independent driver in the FIA World Touring Car Championship.
Muller’s fifth place ahead of Huff closes the championship gap to just six points, with Alain Menu closing to 69 points from Huff.
Franz Engstler’s win moves him to fourth in the independents’ standings, whilst there is a three way tie for the lead between Norbert Michelisz, Darryl O’Young & Kristian Poulsen.
The next round of the championship is on September 4th at Valencia.