Slovakia WTCR: Oriola survives restart investigation to win

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Slovakia WTCR: Oriola survives restart investigation to win
By: Jack Cozens
Jul 14, 2018, 11:01 AM

Pepe Oriola survived an investigation into a safety car restart procedure to win the opening World Touring Car Cup race at the Slovakia Ring.

Tom Coronel, Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda Civic Type R TCR
Yvan Muller, YMR Hyundai i30 N TCR
Mehdi Bennani, Sébastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR
Gabriele Tarquini, BRC Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR
Kevin Ceccon,Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR
Rob Huff, Sébastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR
Yann Ehrlacher, ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR
Fabrizio Giovanardi, Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR
Petr Fulin, Fullin Race Academy Seat Cupra TCR

Campos Racing SEAT driver Oriola led the majority of the extended 11-lap race, and avoided a penalty for backing the field up ahead of a mid-race restart to comfortably beat the WRT Audi of Jean-Karl Vernay.

From third on the grid, Oriola was gifted a place at the start when polesitter Gabriele Tarquini bogged down in his Hyundai

He then pursued early leader Aurelien Comte (Peugeot 308TCR), before grabbing the lead early on the second lap.

Despite Vernay swiftly following the Spaniard through on Comte, around the outside of the long Turn 3 right-hander, Oriola was quickly able to pull away at the front - setting the fastest lap of the race on lap three.

But an advantage of more than a second was wiped out when a safety car was called to recover the Comtoyou Audi of Frederic Vervisch.

After a delay in getting recovery vehicles to the scene, Vervisch's car was quickly retrieved - allowing the race to resume on lap seven, but only after Oriola had backed the pack up on the back straight before restarting.

Oriola was investigated for that manoeuvre, but was let off with a black and white warning and again eased clear, eventually claiming his first win of the season by 1.734 seconds.

Behind Vernay, Tarquini - the only Hyundai driver not to be excluded from qualifying for a boost pressure issue - completed the podium, recovering from his sluggish start by repassing Comte on the third lap.

Comte held on to fourth, but only after resisting pressure from Fabrizio Giovanardi - who ended the Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo outfit's long wait for points with a fine fifth place, advancing seven places from his grid position.

The 52-year-old found a way into the top 10 on the opening lap, then reeled off a string of overtakes into the Turn 1 right-hander to score his first points in any World Touring Car race since 2006.

The last of Giovanardi's overtakes was on title hopeful Yann Ehrlacher, who was the only Munnich Motorsport driver to complete the race.

Teammate Esteban Guerrieri, who started fourth, was hit from behind on the opening lap and lost plenty of time in the pits. He rejoined the race, only to return to the pits before the end of the race.

Veteran Tom Coronel equalled his best finish of the campaign so far with seventh in his Boutsen Ginion Honda, ahead of a trio of Comtoyou Audis.

First-time points scorer Denis Dupont beat Aurelien Panis to eighth, with Nathanael Berthon claiming the final point.

From the back of the grid, the YMR Racing Hyundai of Yvan Muller and Thed Bjork were able to advance to 12th and 13th respectively.

Both Sebastien Loeb Racing Volkswagens again struggled for pace, with Rob Huff finishing 19th and Mehdi Bennani 21st.

Race 1: 

Cla#DriverCarGap
1 74 ESP Pepe Oriola Seat  
2 69 FRA Jean-Karl Vernay Audi 1.734
3 30 ITA Gabriele Tarquini Hyundai 2.374
4 7 FRA Aurélien Comte Peugeot 5.525
5 88 ITA Fabrizio Giovanardi Alfa Romeo 5.773
6 68 FRA Yann Ehrlacher Honda 7.357
7 9 HOL Tom Coronel Honda 7.725
8 20 BEL Denis Dupont Audi 8.190
9 21 FRA Aurelien Panis Audi 8.993
10 23 FRA Nathanaël Berthon Audi 9.813
11 8 HUN Norbert Nagy Seat 11.557
12 48 FRA Yvan Muller Hyundai 12.383
13 11 SWE Thed Björk Hyundai 12.594
14 70 SVK Mato Homola Peugeot 13.395
15 44 CZE Petr Fulin Seat 13.767
16 31 ITA Kevin Ceccon Alfa Romeo 14.019
17 52 GBR Gordon Shedden Audi 15.569
18 27 FRA John Filippi Seat 15.856
19 12 GBR Rob Huff Volkswagen 22.247
20 63 BEL Benjamin Lessennes Honda 22.917
21 25 MAR Mehdi Bennani Volkswagen 24.338
22 17 SVK Andrej Studenic Volkswagen 24.575
23 5 HUN Norbert Michelisz Hyundai 1 Lap
24 66 HUN Zsolt David Szabo Seat 2 Laps
  86 ARG Esteban Guerrieri Honda 5 Laps
  22 BEL Frederic Vervisch Audi 8 Laps

 

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About this article

Series WTCR
Event Slovakia
Location Slovakia Ring
Drivers Pepe Oriola
Author Jack Cozens
Article type Race report