Most people watching free practice for the World Touring Car Championship round in Hungary would have assumed that if any driver/team combination was going to spoil Chevrolet’s weekend, it would be Gabriele Tarquini. Fresh off a victory last time out in Slovakia, the former-World Champion laid the marker early on the opening day, the setup on his SEAT Leon suiting the fast sweeping Hungaroring circuit well and establishing him firmly in the top two. Yes, surely Tarquini – one of only three non-Chevy drivers to win a WTCC race in over a year – would be the man to stop the American juggernaut.
But no. Over-zealousness at the opening corner of race one scuppered the Italian’s chances. Having made a superb start from fourth on the grid, the SEAT was already alongside front row men Yvan Muller and Rob Huff heading into turn one. Despite being on the outside, Tarquini pushed for the apex.
Huff, sandwiched between the Lukoil Racing Team SEAT and his Chevrolet team-mate Muller, was unable to go anywhere and delivered a sizeable clout to Tarquini’s passenger door, sending the SEAT onto two wheels. Not long after that, the battered Leon cruised down pit road and into retirement.
The pair would square off again in race two, with Tarquini ahead this time courtesy of his reversed grid position. One of the WTCC’s most adamant defensive drivers on his day, the Italian proved too difficult for Huff to get past, despite his best efforts. The pair finished their weekend as they’d started, glued together, albeit in 6th and 7th respectively.