Alain Menu has taken victory in the second World Touring Car Championship race in Portugal, comfortably beating Pepe Oriola who takes his first outright podium, and Tom Coronel.
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While Menu, running under the name of Michel Vaillant for the weekend stormed off into the distance after the perfect start from second on the grid, behind the action was fast and fraught.
Pole man Pepe Oriola in the SEAT Tuenti Racing Team SEAT Leon lost two positions at the start as Menu and ROAL Motorsport’s Tom Coronel both got ahead of the Spanish youngster.
Further back, Yvan Muller and Rob Huff were going backwards as the BMW 320TC of Stefano D’Aste got ahead of the two of them – before D’Aste was caught up in an incident with the Proteam BMW of Mehdi Bennani. The incident was confirmed to be under investigation later in the race.
Up at the front, Menu was pulling away while the battle for the podium positions was hotting up, with Oriola looking to pass Coronel for second. Having been running fourth, Norbert Michelisz soon found himself dropping down the field having been grass cutting.
Tarquini and Tiago Monteiro both got past the Hungarian driver and soon enough, Monteiro had lost another two positions as Muller and Huff moved ahead of the Portuguese driver.
Once Oriola had worked his way into second on the third lap, he opened up a slight advantage over the chasing pack which was being led by Coronel.
Muller and Huff had caught Coronel’s team-mate, Alberto Cerqui and Muller made his move on the run to the first corner while for Huff, it took until the seventh lap to find a way past.
The following lap, Tarquini saw his race end prematurely after an incident involving Huff. Muller had got ahead of the Italian exiting the first corner – Tarquini had defended but then took too much kerb which opened the door for Muller. Huff then looked at turn 3 but spun Tarquini and Muller spun in sympathy.
This allowed Huff and Cerqui to get past and the BMW driver finished the lap ahead of the British driver, but Huff took the place back on the following lap before Muller took back fifth on the penultimate lap.
At the flag, Menu secured the victory by over three seconds from Oriola, who secured his maiden podium finish and another Yokohama Independents’ victory. Coronel rounded out the top three, while Huff, Muller, Cerqui, Alex MacDowall, Monteiro, Franz Engstler and Michelisz rounded out the top ten. Michelisz had started the final lap seventh but lost out.
Leaving Europe, Muller has an 18 point advantage over Huff with Menu third. Coronel has once again taken over the best of the rest position from Tarquini while with his maiden podium finish, Oriola has moved into the outright top six in the drivers’ Championship at the expense of Michelisz.
Oriola has extended his advantage in the Yokohama Independents’ over Michelisz, while D’Aste has fallen further behind after failing to score in the second race.
The WTCC now has a seven week break before the first of the flyaway races in Curitiba, Brazil over the 21/22 July.