Johan Kristoffersson wins, while Rob Huff crashes out of Race Two

by James Bowers

Johan Kristoffersson dominated out in front to take the first race victory of his World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) career.

As the lights went out, it was a strong start from Kristoffersson, but there was an even stronger start from Antti Buri alongside him. The Swede held on around the outside of turn one however to keep the Finn behind. A few cars back, Attila Tassi had a huge slide on cold tyres but managed to gather himself together again with only a few positions lost.

Buri wasn’t about to give up that easily, but in doing so, left himself vulnerable to Frederic Vervisch just behind. Vervisch pulled off a great move on the outside line at Ford Kurve to get ahead of Buri, and even managed to draw up alongside the race leader. For a few seconds, Vervisch edged ahead, but Kristoffersson regained the lead into the Dunlop hairpin.

Further into the Nordschleife, Gabriele Tarquini also made his way past Antti Buri. The wildcard’s line was compromised, allowing Rob Huff to get by as well. Attila Tassi was the next in line, but his eagerness to pass Buri got the better of him. Contact with the back of the Audi left Tassi compromised, and instead it was he who was overtaken by the likes of Augusto Farfus.

As the cars entered the Dottinger Hohe for the first time, it was Aurelien Panis who was the first to attempt a move. With Esteban Guerrieri in his sights, Panis’ bright yellow Cupra closed in behind and up alongside the championship leader’s car, but couldn’t quite get past. The same can’t be said for Benjamin Leuchter, however, as the Volkswagen ace picked up an aerodynamic tow from both cars and swooped ahead of the pair of them into eighth.

Yann Ehrlacher was left having to resort to pit lane with a broken front splitter, but up in the top ten as the cars headed onto lap two, Antti Buri was again overtaken – this time by Augusto Farfus at turn one. That then in turn opened the door for Tassi who at last successfully got past the Finn.

Feeling the pressure, Buri then ran wide through the Schumacher esses, allowing Leuchter to capitalise for seventh. As the cars headed onto the Nordschleife, Guerrieri tried to get past too, but this time Buri was able to fend off the attacking driver behind. Eventually though, Buri could do no more to stay ahead of the Argentine.

The race wasn’t about to get any easier for Antti Buri either. On the exit of the Mini Karousel, Buri got two wheels on the grass and ran wide, leaving the door wide open for Aurelien Panis and Norbert Michelisz, demoting him now outside of the top ten.

Rob Huff’s race then suddenly took a disastrous turn. Having attempted to move into third place, contact with Gabriele Tarquini saw his Volkswagen pitched into the barriers at the Karousel. Question marks then loomed over Tarquini’s car as he shot back into the clutches of Augusto Farfus and Attila Tassi, and indeed, Tarquini lost out to Farfus for the final spot on the podium along the Dottinger Hohe.

After the race, the FIA stewards adjudged Tarquini to be at fault for the incident, and promptly handed him a thirty second time penalty. This demotes him way outside of the points-paying positions.

But while one Volkswagen driver will be feeling sick with frustration, another will be utterly elated. Johan Kristoffersson took the chequered flag by a healthy margin to claim his first ever race victory in the World Touring Car Cup – and what a place to do it.

Augusto Farfus also picked up his first podium finish of the season, while Tarquini’s demotion meant that Attila Tassi would secure a career-best fourth.

Top 15 Standings

PositionDriverCarGap to Winner (Seconds)Points Gained
1stJohan KristofferssonVolkswagen25
2ndFrederic VervischAudi+5.10820
3rdAugusto FarfusHyundai+10.89116
4thAttila TassiHonda+11.82713
5thBenjamin LeuchterVolkswagen+12.34011
6thEsteban GuerrieriHonda+17.59110
7thNorbert MicheliszHyundai+22.7159
8thAurelien PanisCupra+23.0728
9thJean-Karl VernayAudi+23.6577
10thTom CoronelCupra+24.3296
11thAntti BuriAudi+26.7730 (Wildcard)
12thThed BjorkLynk & Co+27.1215
13thMikel AzconaCupra+27.1784
14thTiago MonteiroHonda+27.6263
15thYvan MullerLynk & Co+29.2562
16thMehdi BennaniVolkswagen+29.6471

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