WTCC's first visit to the Slovakia Ring saw victories in the two races going to Gabriele Tarquini in a Lukoil Racing SEAT León and Robert Huff in one of the factory Chevrolet Cruze cars. Tarquini gives the new SEAT 1.6 liter turbocharged petrol engine its maiden victory.
A sell-out crowd of more than 25,000 enjoyed the sunny day with an action packed racing. A number of WTCC competitors were not quite so happy with the spectacle though, with the Team AON Ford Focus cars in particular leaving the circuit having failed to convert their early promising pace into useful points because of race incidents.
The early domination of the 2012 WTCC by Chevrolet appeared to have drawn to a close after qualifying on Saturday. The highest-placed Cruze was that of sixth-placed Yvan Muller, while pole position had been claimed by Norbert Michelisz in a BMW 320 TC. The Chevrolet team bounced back on race day, however, with all three of their drivers recording podium finishes. James Nash, meanwhile, qualified an impressive fourth in a Ford Focus, but received a ten-place grid penalty for both races after failing the ride height inspection.
Tarquini and his teammate Aleksei Dudukalo claimed a 1-2 for Lukoil Racing in Race 1, while a similar result for Chevrolet in Race 2 saw Huff finish just ahead of Muller. Huff has now closed the gap to Muller to 27 points, with Alain Menu dropping to third place in the Drivers’ Championship table, just a point behind Huff.
In the Yokohama Trophy there were wins for Dudukalo in Race 1 and Pepe Oriola in Race 2. Oriola now leads by 9 points from Stefano D’Aste, with Norbert Michelisz in third place.
The WTCC now has its shortest break between races of the entire season, with rounds 9 and 10 taking place next weekend at Budapest’s Hungaroring.
Tom Coronel was given a 30-second time penalty on the results of the first race, as he had punted Franz Engstler off the track. This dropped the Dutchman from eighth to 15th.