WTCC » 13 July 2008
Estoril 2008: Rydell romps to victory.
Rickard Rydell made the most of his SEAT's superior straight line speed to hold off Nicola Larini for his first World Touring Car win of the season at Estoril.
The Swede began alongside pole sitter Larini at the rolling start, but simply surged forward down the lengthy home straight to sweep ahead of the Italian before never looking back.
Larini lost out to Yvan Muller too, the Frenchman making an outstanding start from eighth on the grid as he dived up the inside of the first corner to make it a SEAT 1-2 in the early stages of the race.
Behind the top three though, the opening few bends induced chaos as the drivers funnelled into the tight first corner right-hander. Effectively started by Rob Huff when his wide line into turn one saw him pull across Jordi Gene and launch himself into a half spin, the sliding Chevrolet was enough to delay those directly behind, most notably the BMWs.
Things would get worse for Augusto Farfus and Jorg Muller when they ran onto the gravel at turn two, before championship leader Gabriele Tarquini was turned around by Tom Coronel coming into turn three, although it is likely the Dutchman was given a helping hand as the field squeezed through…
The first lap carnage was not completely finished though as Sergio Hernandez bumped Farfus into the side of Tom Boardman's SUNRED SEAT, the Brazilian switching back across the circuit to collect the hapless Brit and put them both out on the spot.
Whilst all that went on further back, Rydell had established a comfortable lead over Muller, who in turn had Larini directly behind him. Gene held onto fourth, ahead of Andy Priaulx, while Huff was still sixth, remarkably, despite experiencing two offs on the opening lap.
Given the excitement of the first lap, the race began to settle down as the field spread out and while Larini quickly dispatched a heavy Muller for second on lap three, most of the attention focused on the battle for fourth as Gene defended against a barrage of onslaughts from Priaulx directly behind.
Embarking on very close, but largely clean, tussle, Priaulx and Gene did make contact on lap eight, but would stay as they were until lap ten when Huff made a move stick on the reigning champion coming out of turn two as he swept through into fifth.
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