ANDY PRIAULX REIGNS IN THE RAIN The heavens opened in Pau so that Race 2 was in complete contrast to the first. The drivers were forced to start the race behind the safety car on an extremely wet track. After the safety car came in at the end of...
ANDY PRIAULX REIGNS IN THE RAIN
The heavens opened in Pau so that Race 2 was in complete contrast to the first. The drivers were forced to start the race behind the safety car on an extremely wet track. After the safety car came in at the end of lap 3, Andy Priaulx led the pack into the rain in the BMW Team UK car.
Experience seemed essential in this race as the reigning world champion drove faultlessly to claim his first win of the season and making it a double victory for BMW after Augusto Farfus' in Race 1.
Priaulx held off a charge from Chevrolet's Nicola Larini who kept close to the Brit throughout the race, and SEAT drivers Rickard Rydell and Gabriele Tarquini who took third and fourth spots respectively. Robert Huff rounded off a strong weekend for him in fifth position, ahead of Farfus, who passed Yvan Muller and Jordi Gene earlier in the race to take sixth position.
The final points went to Muller (seventh) and James Thompson (eighth) who scored his first point at the wheel of the N.technology Honda Accord. Thompson fought his way past Jorg Muller to gain the single point. Further back the race had a few incidents as Sergio Hernandez went wide at Turn 2 while leading the Independents' class, allowing Stefano D'Aste to take the lead. Also at Turn 2 Alessandro Zanardi had a perilous moment when he slid down the pit straight into a spin. He was none the worse, but he and Muller (who moved out of his way) lost places to Tom Coronel.
For the rest of the race Muller seemed unable to get round the corner without going straight as he went off more than once, and rejoined. He lost places to Coronel and Tiago Monteiro in the SEATs, and finished out of the points.
Alain Menu failed to finish the race when he clipped the barrier at Turn 8 and put his Chevrolet, bonnet first, into the tyre wall. He limped back to the pits but was unable to continue. Gene had to pit and struggled to finish the rest of the race, ending it a lap down on the leader. Race 1 winner of the Independents' class Laurent Cazenave did not finish after a collision with Franz Engstler at Turn 4.
This left the class open for a fight between Hernandez, D'Aste and Engstler. D'Aste finally came out on top to take the win and finish the race fourteenth overall ahead of Engstler and Oscar Nogues.
Tarquini increased his lead in the championship table to 45 points and is chased by fellow SEAT Sport drivers Muller (38) and Rydell (37). Priaulx climbed to fourth and reduced his gap to the lead to 12 points.
The championship will resume on 15th June at Brno, Czech Republic, for rounds 9 and 10.