D’Aste Steals Maiden Win At Final Corner After Chevrolets Puncture

by Peter Allen
Stefano D'Aste - Photo Credit: WTCC Media

D'Aste celebrates his unexpected victory on the podium - Photo Credit: WTCC Media

Stefano D'Aste scored his first ever World Touring Car Championship race win in Race 2 at the Salzburgring in dramatic circumstances, as the leading Chevrolets of Yvan Muller and then Rob Huff suffered punctures in the very final corners.

The three factory Chevrolets, which had held the top three spots in every session so far this weekend, started the race from eighth, ninth and tenth on the reverse grid. They quickly used their speed advantage however to move into the top three positions.

Muller took the lead from BMW man Tom Coronel on lap four, with Huff taking second from the Dutchman on the following lap and Alain Menu following his teammates through into third on lap seven.

One lap later though the Swiss driver would be off into the barrier at turn nine with a puncture, one lap after Tiago Monteiro had gone off at the subsequent corner with the same issue. Menu was joined in the gravel by the similar Chevrolet Cruze of Alex MacDowall, who was lucky not to hit Menu's car.

Muller and Huff had built up a comfortable margin over the fighting BMWs of Coronel and D'Aste, but Menu's puncture caused them to ease up to protect their tyres. They still had the lead on the last lap, but Muller suffered a puncture at turn 10, running wide and letting Huff, Coronel and D'Aste through.

Huff then slowed coming through turns 13 and 14. Coronel tried to pass him on the inside of the last corner, 15, but Huff defended. This allowed Italian driver D'Aste to drive clean around the outside and claim the first outright win for both himself and the Wiechers-Sport team – who have both been a part of the championship since it began in 2005.

Coronel's lost momentum after being blocked by Huff allowed the British driver to cling on to second place. Pepe Oriola escaped without a puncture on his front-wheel-drive SEAT to finish fourth ahead of the BMW trio of Norbert Michelisz, Mehdi Bennani and Alberto Cerqui.

Muller limped across the line in eighth just in front of Franz Engstler. The Team Aon Ford Focus was the only front-wheel-drive model not to suffer a puncture, allowing James Nash and Tom Chilton to finish tenth and 11th.

Holding onto second means Huff has close the gap to Muller down to eight points, at what is now the halfway point of the season. The final European event of the season takes place at Portimao on 3 June.

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