HUNGARORING [Budapest] – Sunday 5 May 2013: Yvan Muller has extended his lead in the FIA World Touring Car Championship over nearest rival, Gabriele Tarquini with a lights to flag lead in race one and further points in race two.
With fastest lap set, Muller’s gap over second placed runner Norbert Michelisz had stretched to over a second as Gabriele Tarquini, Rob Huff and team-mate Tom Chilton rounded out the top five but as the race leader controlled the pace ahead, the story of the BMWs was emerging further down the track.
Running in fifth, Chilton was to become the target of Tom Coronel’s charging BMW and, despite best efforts, the Dutchman finally forged a way through by lap five, followed closely by team-mate Mehdi Bennani.
Not yet settled in the BMW camp, Bennani would pass the Dutchman under a plume of tyre smoke and the duo reeled Huff into a three-way battle. Chilton’s consistent pace enabled him to keep in the mix but the Briton was unable to find a way back through and finished in seventh, boosting his championship position as he was promoted to 3rd overall.
Race two was off to a dramatic start in which Tarquini suffered a huge shunt resulting in first lap retirement, but thankfully no injuries. Contact from behind sent the Honda Civic off into the barriers on the outside of turn 3. In a tense moment the crew watched on as Muller recovered on track as the stricken Civic skimmed across. Franz Engstler - also caught up in first corner mayhem - was another to be forced into early retirement as the safety car was deployed.
On the restart Muller was up into 5th having passed both his team-mate and Coronel - the RML duo enjoying close but clean door-to-door racing as the Aon-clad Cruzes skilfully displayed respectful racing rivalry. Chilton’s great progress off the line was overshadowed and, whilst Yvan was piling the pressure on James Nash - repeatedly looking to make his move and outfox the Yokohama Trophy leader - it was much a case of déjà vu for Chilton as he exchanged places with Coronel over the final laps – the BMW all the while seeming to extract better grip from the tyres in spite of the Cruze’s clear speed advantage.
Reigning World Champion Rob Huff took the honours, just edging ahead of Chilton in the title standings on 68 points . Benanni claimed second, followed by a trio of RML-built Cruzes – MacDowall, Nash and Muller.
Yvan Muller: “That was a good weekend for us. Pole was important here to get the win in the first race. I got a good start and pushed hard through mid race before having to manage my tyres and look after them. Race two was important for us to take more points for the championship, so for that, and the consistency, I am pleased to take 5th.”
Tom Chilton: “I came to Hungary with a plan to work hard on Sunday’s race performance and grab points in both races, which I have done. I also aimed to take 3rd in the championship, which I achieved after race one, but I sadly lost out by a point after race 2 due to Huff’s win
“I’m looking forward to a big fight in Salzburgring now and as I learn the car more each day I am in it, I know I am making good progress.”