THE SUN SHINES FOR FARFUS AND BMW
The sun was shining for the first WTCC race in Pau this morning. BMW Team Germany's Augusto Farfus led the drivers out on the first lap and carefully negotiated the first few corners, keeping the SEAT cars behind him. However, as they reached Turn 3, the problems began behind the top six.
After a pile up that involved most of the field at the Virage du Lycee, the race was suspended while the track was cleared up and then resumed behind the safety car.
Pierre-Yves Corthals (who was involved in the Turn 3 pile up) and Oscar Nogues, the Independents' Trophy pole sitter (who had crashed after the start) did not make the grid.
Again Farfus made the best start and led safely, building a big gap of 10 seconds by lap 10 and eventually winning by a margin of nearly 18 seconds. SEAT driver Yvan Muller followed him into second place. His team mate Jordi Gene took third position only two tenths behind Muller by the end. However he had to defend his position from a charging Robert Huff who pushed his Chevrolet up to fourth position, and was chasing the podium. Huff started the race from sixth position but during the race overtook Rickard Rydell and then Gabriele Tarquini who finished sixth and fifth respectively.
Chevrolet's Nicola Larini overtook Andy Priaulx for seventh position, pushing the British driver to eighth place. However the latter will now start on pole for the second race, opening the possibility for a successful BMW weekend.
In the Independents' class the competition was wide open. Laurent Cazenave led them to victory in his home race at the wheel of the Wiechers-Sport BMW 320si, followed by Sergio Hernandez who won the fight for second with Stefano D'Aste and Franz Engslter who finished third and fourth respectively.
After today's first race, Yvan Muller reduced his gap to the championship leader Gabriele Tarquini to four points. Rickard Rydell and Jordi Gene complete a SEAT quartet on top of the classification. Robert Huff has matched Andy Priaulx' score and he is now the first non SEAT driver in the championship.
FIRST LAP PILE-UP AT LYCEE
A domino effect occurred as the field reached Turn 3. Alain Menu was punted by Alessandro Zanardi who had been bumped by Tiago Monteiro who had been pushed by Felix Porteiro.
The cars were so close that it was not possible to determine who had started it all.
This caused a pile up and all the middle and back fielders were forced to stop because the track was blocked.