RACE 1 – RYDELL’S FIRST WIN
Rickard Rydell led from the first corner in his SEAT León TDI to win the first race in Estoril, which was also his first victory of the season.
The start was extremely competitive as the front four drivers all fought for the lead. Rydell kept a cool head as he found he had the pace over pole sitter Chevrolet’s Nicola Larini into the first corner. Robert Huff came up the outside to challenge for second position but made contact with Jordi Gené’s SEAT, which pushed the Chevrolet driver down to sixth.
Further back BMW Team Germany driver Augusto Farfus had a collision with his team-mate Jörg Müller, and then was punted by another car and spun, retiring soon afterwards. Championship leader Gabriele Tarquini was also involved in a collision and rejoined at the back of the field, finishing for the first time out of the points.
With a brilliant start Yvan Muller came up from eighth position on the grid to pop into second position at the end of the second lap, with Larini behind him. However, Larini found the pace he was missing at the start and overtook the SEAT driver for second position and began to chase the leader Rydell. The latter made his car very wide and the Italian was unable to pass him, finishing just behind in second.
Yvan Muller took third position, ahead of a chasing Huff who overtook Andy Priaulx and Gené. The Spaniard took fifth place, with Priaulx just behind him, and local hero Tiago Monteiro in seventh place. Félix Porteiro collected the last point and will start from pole on the reverse grid for race two.
Alain Menu, who was sent to the back of the grid for a technical breach, climbed up to eleventh, after several overtaking moves throughout the race.
Further down the field were more incidents to thrill the crowd as Independents‘ leader Sergio Hernández was involved in a collision early on in the race. His bonnet was damaged, and the stewards showed the black/orange to him, ordering him into the pits. Moments after returning to the track his bonnet flew up and he was forced to retire from the race. Stefano D’Aste also encountered problems and collided with Franz Engstler causing the latter to spin and lose positions. Olivier Tielemans was forced to retire with an exhaust fire during the race, and Jaap van Lagen limped to the end of the race with a sick sounding engine but managed to collect the first points for the LADA team. Pierre-Yves Corthals picked up the pieces to take his first Independent win since Puebla.