It’s not just the UK that boasts a door-to-door, action-packed Touring Car Championship – the best of the best in saloon car racing battle it out on the world stage, too.
Last weekend the World Touring Car Championship headed to Slovakia and the Slovakia Ring circuit, with the series recording a first ever win for Honda.
Race 1 saw Italian Touring Car legend Gabriele Tarquini lead from flag to flag, converting his pole position in the Honda Civic into the manufacturer’s first win in the WTCC. Tarquini’s teammate – Tiago Monteiro – came home in third, while Norbert Michelisz rounded off the podium, also in a Civic, making it a one-two-three for Honda.
As always with Touring Car racing, there was plenty of action. Britain’s Tom Chilton – brother of Marussia F1 driver Max Chilton – put his Chevrolet Cruze in the gravel on lap two. However, it wasn’t a totally disappointing weekend for the group of British drivers.
James Nash finished sixth in race one in his Chevrolet Cruze, two places ahead of Alex MacDowall, while former British Touring Car Champion James Thompson came home 13th in hi Lada Granta. Yes, really…
Just to rub salt into the wounds of his opponents, Tarquini made it a hattrick of achievements for race one, scoring the fastest lap to go with his pole position and victory.
Things looked ominous for race two, however it wasn’t to be a Honda whitewash again.
Instead, it was the turn of BMW driver Tom Coronel to impress. He completed the same feat as Tarquini, leading from lights to flag and bagging the fastest lap, taking BMW’s first win of the 2013 season in the process.
The rest of the race was a more mixed affair, with action and paint swapping occurring all the way down the field.
There was contact between race one runner up Tiago Monteiro and three-time WTCC champion Yvan Muller in his Chevrolet Cruze. Monteiro dropped to eight, effectively ending his chances of a race victory – although the Portuguese did make a valiant fight back to finish fifth.
Muller was involved in another scrap three laps later, this time with race one victor Tarquini. Both cars continued, passing the Chevrolet Cruze of British driver Rob Huff after he ran wide at turn one, just one lap before the chequered flag.
That meant Muller and Tarquini took second and third spots respectively. Despite Tarquini’s win, a strong showing from Muller saw him leave Slovakia with a 24-point lead in the championship over Tarquini – although Honda extended its lead in the manufacturers’ championship to 111 points.
The WTCC heads to Hungary this weekend. In typical Touring Car fashion, we’re sure we’ll see plenty of action again.