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Stefano D’Aste tastes victory in Japan

Stefano D’Aste took his second-ever World Touring Car Championship victory in Japan, winning the reverse-grid race from Pepe Oriola and Gabriele Tarquini as Rob Huff finished as the best of the Chevrolets in fourth.

Click here for the full Round 20 Results.

D’Aste started from pole position thanks to qualifying in tenth on Saturday, and was joined by Oriola on the front row of the grid. The duo made strong starts to hold those positions at the start and, despite the best efforts of young Spaniard Oriola, remained in the same positions at the chequered flag.

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Tarquini finished in third – the third consecutive time he has finished on the bottom step of the podium in the second race of a WTCC weekend. Therefore this marked the first time in 2012 that the podium did not feature a Chevrolet driver; indeed it is the first time since July 2010 that no Chevrolet driver has finished on the podium, bringing to an end a 53-race streak.

Rob Huff was the best of the ‘boys in blue’ in fourth, crucially beating his team-mates to leave Japan still tied on points with Yvan Muller. By finishing in fifth, Swiss Alain Menu ensured that he was the strongest-scoring of the Chevrolet drivers, whilst Muller himself took sixth, thanks to a penultimate lap pass on Mehdi Bennani.

Bennani himself finished in seventh, although the Moroccan had looked likely to finish in fourth until Huff found a way past on lap 24, which ultimately allowed his Chevrolet team-mates through as well.

Aleksei Dudukalo finished in the points in both races of a weekend for the first time by taking eighth, ahead of bamboo engineering’s Alex MacDowall in ninth.

Finishing in tenth was once again Tiago Monteiro, ensuring that the new Honda Civic enjoyed a double points finish on its début appearance in the WTCC.

Finishing in 11th, 12th and 13th, and taking the final points positions in the Yokohama Independent’s Trophy were Franz Engstler, Tom Boardman and Darryl O’Young.

The most notable retirement in the race came on the opening lap when Norbert Michelisz was spun into the gravel and out of the race at turn three by Monteiro. The result means that Michelisz endured his worst weekend of the season and lost crucial points in the Yokohama Independents trophy to Oriola.

Tom Coronel, who won race two at Suzuka in 2011, stalled at the start of the race and dropped down to 21st as a result. The Dutchman fought back during the race but with overtaking proving difficult on the 2.2 km circuit he could only finish in 15th at the end of the race.

Muller and Huff leave Japan tied on points, with Menu gaining ground slightly on the duo.

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