22 March 2009
Rydell holds onto Puebla win
Rickard Rydell has won the first World Touring Car race of the weekend in Puebla after resisting late pressure from BMW's Augusto Farfus.
The Swede benefited from a frantic first couple of laps around the twisty Mexican circuit to leap up from his fourth place grid slot before making an early break that was good enough to hold off a late charge by Farfus and Andy Priaulx.
An occasionally bad tempered race, particularly in the early stages, pole sitter Farfus was tagged by Gabriele Tarquini at the rolling start, causing him to lose some momentum down to the first corner. Nonetheless, his inside line helped him cling onto the lead, ahead of Rydell, who had swept around the outside to move into second.
However, with BMW having shown an advantage in qualifying and warm-up, Rydell was wasting no time in trying to get ahead of Farfus, the Swede hustling him through the first few corners before getting a run on him around the oval back 'straight', his TDI torque dragging him past the Brazilian.
Further back, it had been a bruising first lap for the BMW team, with Priaulx having been shuffled down to fourth when he was tapped by Tiago Monteiro, the pair losing ground to the leaders and positions to Tarquini and Yvan Muller.
Worse was to follow for Monteiro as he attempted to tackle Jorg Muller on lap three, the pair making contact on the exit of turn ten to go fumbling across the grass. With Monteiro and Muller rejoining the track in the midst of the battle for seventh, also involving Jordi Gene, Sergio Hernandez and Nicola Larini, contact would send Hernandez spinning down the field, while Monteiro would also turn around in sympathy just behind.
With the top two breaking away, attention turned to the battle for third place, which now had Tarquini followed by Priaulx after he passed Muller with a neat pass into turn seven.
With Tarquini seemingly unable to match the pace of those around him, Priaulx and Muller began to get bottled up behind the Italian until Priaulx dived down the inside of his SEAT on lap nine and squeezed through. Making contact to send Tarquini into a half-spin, Muller also capitalised to move back up to fourth.
Having struggled at Puebla in previous years, BMW stepped up a gear in the closing stages of the race, Priaulx in particular having set a fastest lap that would prove a second quicker than any of his SEAT rivals could manage.
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