Muller denies Tarquini Imola double
20 September 2009
SEAT are well positioned to take a second consecutive World Touring Car Championship title after Yvan Muller and Gabriele Tarquini completed its second 1-2 finish of the day at Imola.
Despite starting down in seventh and eighth position by virtue of the reversed grid, Muller and Tarquini made swift progress up the order to assume their positions out front by the end of lap three.
With Augusto Farfus, who retired in race one, only able to snatch a single point for eighth place, Tarquini and Muller now have a respective 18 and 11 point lead over the BMW driver with two rounds and four races remaining.
With a front row made up of Alain Menu's Chevrolet and Sergio Hernandez's BMW, most expected the latter to jump out in front from the standing start, but it was the experienced Swiss driver who led the way into turn one.
James Thompson, starting in third position for LADA after his excellent sixth place finish in race one, didn't get away so well, being swallowed up to drop to seventh, behind Alex Zanardi, Muller, Rob Huff and Tarquini.
From here, Muller and Tarquini began to pounce on those ahead, although the stewards may consider the Italian's rather aggressive pass on Huff, one that sent the Chevrolet sliding through the final turn gravel trap, somewhat too ambitious.
Nonetheless, he continued to follow his team-mate through the order, Muller passing both Hernandez and Zanardi at the same time on the run down to Villeneuve after the two Italy-Spain drivers tripped over one another. Tarquini was up to third soon afterwards when he used his Leon's TDI grunt to get by both on the straights.
With just Menu to overhaul, the Cruze didn't pose too much of a problem for Muller, as he again used Villeneuve to pass his rival, Tarquini shadowing him on the run up the hill.
Quickly pulling clear of the chasing pack, Tarquini continued to put the pressure on Muller, so much so that the pair made contact with three laps remaining at Tamburello, the Italian only succeeding in running wide himself as he struggled to collect his car.
Despite a determined effort on the final lap to find a way through, Tarquini wouldn't be joining Thompson in being the only drivers to score a double WTCC victory in a single weekend. Nonetheless, a pair 1-2 finish apiece of Tarquini and Muller means they will be the drivers to beat in Japan and Macau.
Menu held on for third at the end of what was shaping up to be a difficult weekend for the touring car veteran, following his engine blow-up in qualifying. He resisted Zanardi, the Italian posting a pair of strong fourth place finishes on home ground.
Of the big names coming through the field from the back of the grid, Jordi Gene made the most progress, finishing a mighty fifth, even if he was another SEAT driver to be involved in an incident, this time with Hernandez.
A second sixth place finish of the day for Thompson continues to reinforce the fact that LADA are slowly catching their WTCC rivals, the Priora holding off Rickard Rydell and Farfus to the finish line for a well deserved finish.