Tarquini Wins In Lukoil 1-2 In Slovakia Race 1 After Contact With Michelisz

Gabriele Tarquini and Aleksei Dudukalo - Photo Credit: WTCC Media
Tarquini scored the first non-Chevrolet win of the 2012 season - Photo Credit: WTCC Media

Gabriele Tarquini won the first ever World Touring Car Championship race in Slovakia, taking the lead of the race after contact with polesitter Norbert Michelisz. Aleksei Dudukalo made it a 1-2 finish for the Lukoil SEAT team.

Zengo BMW driver Michelisz successfully retained his lead at the start under pressure from the Lukoil duo. Tarquini took second from his Russian teammate and then set off after Michelisz. The Italian veteran outbreaked himself and ran into Michelisz, pushing the BMW wide and allowing Tarquini and Dudukalo through. The incident was investigated by the stewards, but no action was taken during the race.

Michelisz then came under pressure from championship leader Yvan Muller, who had moved up from sixth on the grid. The Frenchman bumped Michelisz into a spin, and was almost immediately handed a drive-through penalty that dropped him down the order.

Pepe Oriola inherited third, and then took second when Dudukalo ran wide. The Spanish teenager didn't stay there for long though as he suffered a puncture. Dudukalo regained second, to score the best result of his WTCC career behind his teammate and mentor Tarquini.

Alain Menu took third in his Chevrolet after starting in eighth, with rookie BMW driver Alberto Cerqui coming through to fourth and his best WTCC result. He finished just ahead of Stefano D'Aste, who made a great start to the race from ninth on the grid, climbing past all three Chevrolets and up into fourth place behind the Michelisz-Tarquini-Dudukalo trio.

Michelisz recovered from his spin to take sixth, holding off the SEAT of Darryl O'Young and Tom Coronel in the second of the ROAL BMWs. Tom Boardman and Gabor Weber came through to score their first world championship points, Boardman after starting from the very back of the grid.

Muller crossed the line 11th after his penalty, ahead of Mehdi Bennani and the bamboo Chevrolet pairing of Alex MacDowall and Pasquale di Sabatino. Charles Ng was the last of the finishers on the lead lap, after seemingly making contact with his teammate and team owner Franz Engstler, who failed to finish.

Rob Huff got caught up in a hectic opening lap, first being tipped sideways and then having to run through the gravel in an incident also involving Tiago Monteiro and James Nash. Huff retired to the pits later into the race, joining Monteiro and Nash out of the race. It was a dreadful opening lap for Team Aon, with Tom Chilton going off at Turn 1 and also retiring.