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Oriola battles to historic first win

7 April 2013

Pepe Oriola secured a place in World Touring Car Championship history after clinching his maiden victory in the second race in Marrakech.

Success for the 18-year-old Spaniard made him the youngest winner of a WTCC race, with the Tuenti Racing driver seeing off the challenge of RML pair Yvan Muller and Tom Chilton to become the first non-Chevrolet victor of the year.

Oriola had started the race on the front row alongside fellow SEAT man Fernando Monje but managed to get ahead when the lights went out, remaining out front through to the flag despite intense pressure behind as Muller looked to find a way through.

The Frenchman's move to the front had been aided by a collision at the final corner of the opening lap that saw Rob Huff and Monje make contact while fighting for second spot, with Huff forced out with damaged suspension and Monje dropping outside the top ten.

Monje would then retire on the following lap when he ran into the rear of James Thompson's LADA going into the penultimate chicance; the resultant damage putting both out on the spot.

Thompson was clearly left angered by a missed opportunity to add to his race one points, with little consolation in the fact that Monje would later be handed a five-place grid penalty for causing the incident.

While the battles behind afforded Oriola some early breathing space, he soon found himself battling hard to keep Muller at bay - with the Frenchman in turn coming under pressure from team-mate Chilton, who had worked his way up to third.

The RML pair almost collided at one point while trying to find a way ahead of Oriola, but the teenager was given breathing space when Gabriele Tarquini - running in sixth behind James Nash and Marc Basseng - lost control of his car on the raised kerbs at the final chicane and collected the innocent Alex MacDowall, forcing officials to deploy the Safety Car to allow the damaged Honda and Chevrolet to be recovered.

When the race resumed with just a single lap to run, Oriola was able to keep triple-champion Muller behind to clinch victory, although second for Muller was still enough to extend his points lead.

Chilton rounded out the podium ahead of Independents' winner Nash and Basseng, with Tom Coronel making the most of the clash between Tarquini and MacDowall to take sixth - the best result to date for a BMW driver this season.

Race one winner Michel Nykjaer took seventh, with BMW trio Franz Engstler, Darryl O'Young and Charles Ng rounding out the top ten.

Home hero Mehdi Bennani just missed out on the points in eleventh, with Fredy Barth, Mikhail Kozlovskiy and Stefano D'Aste the only other finishers.

Capping a miserable weekend for the Portuguese racer, Tiago Monteiro failed to take the start as a result of the damage sustained when he crashed his Honda in race one; the JAS Motorsport-run team being unable to fix his Civic in the short gap between the two races.


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