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Tarquini secures Porto opener
5 July 2009
Gabriele Tarquini converted pole position into victory for SEAT in the opening World Touring Car Championship race of the weekend on the streets of Porto.
The Italian had qualified at the head of the field and after holding off the challenge of Rob Huff early on, was able to pull away to secure victory from the British driver.
The race itself was hit by a lengthy red flag period following two accidents on the opening lap of the race. Firstly, Jaap van Lagen and Sergio Hernandez came together at the start, with Hernandez going hard into the pitwall and picking up a suspected ankle injury that led to him being taken to hospital for assessment. The impact also damaged the concrete wall which required lengthy repairs.
Later on the opening lap, Augusto Farfus attempted to make a move on Tiago Monteiro but went in too hot and tagged the back of Alain Menu – who was running ahead of Monteiro on the road. That saw the Chevrolet man spin into the wall while Monteiro behind was also tipped into a spin by Nicola Larini as he attempted to avoid the Swiss driver. While a number of cars were able to avoid the two spun cars, Mehdi Bennani, Diego Puyo, Kirill Ladygin, Franz Engstler, Tom Boardman and James Thompson were unable to find a way past – with the red flags coming out due to the blockage on the circuit.
After a long clear-up operation, the race resumed with the drivers lining up in the order they had taken the original start – meaning Monteiro was back in fifth place as opposed to at the rear of the field.
On the restart, Tarquini was able to pull away and the remainder of the race passed without major issues – aside from an impressive fightback from Farfus. Having been handed a drive-through penalty for his part in the first-lap incidents, the Brazilian fought his way back up the order and was able to break into the points when both Andy Priaulx and Jorg Muller dropped back on the final lap. Priaulx had been well placed for fourth place prior to slowing.
Out front, Tarquini took the win from Huff and Yvan Muller, while Monteiro took fourth – with Nicola Larini and Jordi Gene completing the top six. Rickard Rydell – despite running wide on the final lap – and Farfus rounded out the points scorers.
Independent honours went the way of Stefano D'Aste, who took tenth overall between BMW works men Priaulx and Muller after their last lap tactical moves.
James Thompson gave the new LADA Priora an 18th place finish on its debut.
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