6 September 2009
Priaulx survives chaos to win
Andy Priaulx has returned to the winners' circle after prevailing in a chaotic opening World Touring Car race the Oschersleben, the former champion winning from 14th on the grid.
The Guernseyman capitalised on a typically fraught opening few corners to scythe his way up to fourth position by the end of lap two, before catching and passing early leader Gabriele Tarquini to win his first race of the year.
A sublime drive in a race that was otherwise peppered with various incidents, Priaulx benefitted greatly from a predictably messy first bend, the field filtering into the exceptionally tight right-left chicane and few returning unscathed.
Jorg Muller and Rob Huff were the big losers, the German being turned around before the Chevrolet hit him head-on having had nowhere to go. Augusto Farfus was also heavily delayed, but was able to continue, minus some front bodywork.
Pole sitter Tarquini had managed to avoid the melee, leading from Tom Coronel, Rickard Rydell and Jaap Van Lagen, the LADA driver surviving despite having his rear bumper ripped off in the confusion.
Priaulx was the driver on the move though, quickly moving his way through though and passing Tarquini on lap six to claim a lead he wouldn't lose. Tarquini would hold on to a crucial second place finish, one that puts him into the lead of the standings after Yvan Muller failed to finish.
The Frenchman was battling with Farfus outside the top eight when he cut the second corner too tightly and clipped a tyre, breaking his SEAT's suspension.
Rydell completed the podium, despite a very grassy moment at one stage, while Coronel did his hopes of finding the funding to complete the WTCC season no harm at all by finishing a strong fourth.
The big story of the race, however, was the controversial conclusion to the battle for fifth position. Van Lagen had gallantly held onto the spot throughout the race and was close to completing a first points finish for the LADA team, until the final laps when he began to fade and fall into the clutches of the chasing group.
Led by Nicola Larini, the Italian did his utmost to get past the defending Dutchman on the last lap, eventually culminating in him making contact with the Priora at the final corner and sending a crestfallen Van Lagen into the gravel trap. Although he recovered back to the circuit, it was only good enough for 11th.
Larini held on to claim fifth position, ahead of the charging Farfus, the Brazilian doing well to recover from his earlier problems, while Stefano D'Aste and Franz Engstler flew the flag for the Independent drivers to finish seventh and eighth, guaranteeing themselves a front row start for race two.
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