2 March 2008
Curitiba 2008: Tarquini completes SEAT's D-Day.
Birthday boy Gabriele Tarquini completed a perfect start to the new World Touring Car season for SEAT with victory in the second race of the day at Curitiba.
Using the attributes of his diesel Leon to devastating effect, 46-year-old Tarquini's strong start to the race was enough to hold off a charging Andy Priaulx to the chequered flag, despite his tyres suffering under the pressure of the heavier powerplant in the latter stages.
Adding to Yvan Muller's victory from the first race, Tarquini showed off his car's outstanding low-down torque when he catapulted off the line from third to second by the first corner, this despite seemingly reacting to the lights far worse than the BMWs directly behind.
Nonetheless, Tarquini simply pulled back the advantage on the long run down to the first corner to slot behind Felix Porteiro. Second quickly became first though when the Spaniard became leery on the kerbs around the esses, Tarquini quickly pouncing to eke ahead by turn three.
Porteiro slotted into second, ahead of the fast-starting Priaulx in third, with Tom Coronel – who inherited pole position when Jordi Gene was penalised after the first race – moving into fourth place.
Coronel though was quickly proving to being something of a moving chicane for the leading runners, the Dutchman desperately trying to hold back the BMWs, but at the same time trying to allow the works SEATs through too. With his comparatively underpowered petrol Leon a sitting duck in a straight line, Coronel quickly tumbled out of the top eight.
As the race progressed, the pattern of the race mirrored that of the first event, with the BMWs of Jorg Muller and Augusto Farfus crawling over the back of Rickard Rydell and Yvan Muller. Although Rydell posed less of a problem for both drivers this time, Yvan was a far tougher prospect, the Frenchman surrendering to his namesake on lap nine, but doing well to keep local favourite Farfus behind him to the chequered flag.
Up at the front, Tarquini's cause was being aided by Priaulx's inability to find a way around Porteiro, the Spaniard matching the efforts of the SEAT ahead but never getting close enough to look like challenging. Eventually, Priaulx found a way past with a superb move up the inside of the first corner on lap nine, one that seemed to catch Porteiro unawares.
However, while the reigning champion had no problems cruising up to the back of Tarquini, the Italian was faultless in the Leon's weaker bends, before simply pulling out a gap again down the home straight. While Priaulx was rarely ever more than a second behind his sparring partner, he would not find a way past.
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