Chilton, Tarquini Post Victories at WTCC Event in Sonoma
Tom Chilton and Gabriele Tarquini recorded victories on Sunday in the FIA World Touring Car Championship's (WTCC) second visit to the United States at Sonoma Raceway.
Chilton (Chevrolet) converted his first-ever WTCC pole position into his maiden victory in the first 13-lap sprint race around the 12-turn, 2.50-mile road course, holding off a determined challenge from Tiago Monteiro (Honda).
Chilton's teammate, Yvan Mulller, on the verge of securing his fourth WTCC title, started from second place on the grid, but was passed by Monteiro in the second corner of the 13-lap race. Muller then drove a comfortable race to finish in third place.
"It was a tough race. Tiago was fully lit and I had to make sure I made no mistakes whatsoever, which is very hard to do here," said Chilton. "What a place to win my first WTCC race; it's a really cool place and I really love this track - it's mega!"
Tarquini's victory in the second race at Sonoma also meant that Honda mathematically secured the WTCC Manufacturers' Championship in its first full season in the series. After starting in second place, it took only two corners for Tarquini to pass pole-sitter Mehdi Bennani (BMW), and the Italian led for the remainder of the 13-lap race to take a comfortable victory.
Despite struggling throughout the race with damaged power-steering, Bennani held on for a second-place finish. Norbert Michelisz (Honda) was third, fending off a late-race challenge from Muller throughout the closing laps.
"The key to my victory was the start. It's quite unbelievable and a masterpiece because to beat a rear-wheel drive car under acceleration is very, very nice," said Tarquini.
With the second- and fourth-place finishes, Muller extends his dominating points lead over second-place Tarquini (343-199) in the championship as the season concludes in China, Japan and Macau. Muller is looking for his fourth consecutive championship.
In other racing on Sunday, Vacaville's Tim Barber (Touring Car) and Los Angeles' Geoff Sykes (GT) posted victories in the U.S. Touring Car Race 2.