Yvan Muller has taken an assured lights-to-flag win – and led home a Chevrolet 1-2-3 – in an eventful rain-affected opening race of the 2013 World Touring Car Championship season at Monza.
The Frenchman led home RML team-mate and fellow front-row starter Tom Chilton at the end of the 12-lap race, while Bamboo Engineering’s Alex MacDowall claimed third place and the Independent Trophy class win in his Cruze 1.6T.
The works Honda squad had a promising first race with Gabriele Tarquini finishing fourth ahead of a charging Tiago Monteiro, who gained ten positions relative to his starting position in the Civic WTCC challenger.
Reigning WTCC title-holder Rob Huff was another to climb rapidly up the order, finishing in sixth place from the back of the grid.
With the Milan circuit hit by teeming rain, the race’s rolling start took place under Safety Car conditions, and it made another appearance a handful of laps later when local driver Stefano D’Aste crashed out at Ascari four laps into the race.
Muller and Chilton had run in a formation 1-2 in the early laps, and had to eke out another lead over the pace when the race restarted.
They did so when racing resumed, while MacDowall also used the Chevrolet’s superior grip to secure himself a safe third place, while the main action occurred behind him as Tarquini (who had been hit with a grid penalty for causing a collision), Monteiro and Huff worked their way through the field.
The wily Tarquini pulled off successful passing moves on Marc Basseng, James Nash and then Pepe Oriola, while Monteiro and Huff had a slightly easier time of it, triggered by an error for Basseng at the Parabolica, and a retirement for Oriola.
James Nash finished seventh in the second Bamboo Chevrolet, narrowly avoiding damage in a late-race contact with Tom Boardman, with the incident forcing the Englishman to retire his SEAT with damaged steering.
That contact promoted Norbert Michelisz to eighth place, and he managed to hold off the BMWs of Tom Coronel and Fredy Barth, who rounded out the top-ten and struggled in the greasy conditions.
Neither LADA of James Thompson and Aleksei Dudukalo took part in the race, after both Grantas were ruled out of contention following the heavy qualifying accident between the pair on Saturday.
2013 FIA WTCC Race of Italy – Race 1 Final Classification (12 laps):
|1.||Yvan Muller||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||30:02.783|
|2.||Tom Chilton||RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 0.923|
|3.||Alex MacDowall||Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 5.101||Y|
|4.||Gabriele Tarquini||Castrol Honda Civic WTCC||+ 8.053|
|5.||Tiago Monteiro||Castrol Honda Civic WTCC||+ 15.261|
|6.||Robert Huff||Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC||+ 17.349|
|7.||James Nash||Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 19.964||Y|
|8.||Norbert Michelisz||Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC||+ 20.388|
|9.||Tom Coronel||ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC||+ 28.837|
|10.||Fredy Barth||Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC||+ 37.740||Y|
|11.||Jean-Philippe Dayraut||ANOME BMW 320TC||+ 39.226||Y|
|12.||Fernando Monje||Campos Racing Team SEAT León WTCC||+ 41.656||Y|
|13.||Darryl O’Young||ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC||+ 48.116||Y|
|14.||Marc Basseng||Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC||+ 50.920|
|15.||Charles Ka-Ki Ng||Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC||+ 54.412||Y|
|16.||René Münnich||Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC||+ 58.733||Y|
|17.||Mehdi Bennani||Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC||+ 2:05.913||Y|
|18.||Tom Boardman||Special Tune Racing SEAT León WTCC||+ 2 laps||Y|
|19.||Franz Engstler||Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC||+ 2 laps||Y|
|20.||Michel Nykjær||NIKA Racing Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+ 2 laps||Y|
|NF.||Pepe Oriola||Tuenti Racing Team SEAT León WTCC||8 laps||Y|
|NF.||Stefano D’Aste||PB Sport BMW 320TC||3 laps||Y|
|NS.||James Thompson||LADA Sport Granta||DNS|
|NS.||Aleksei Dudukalo||LADA Sport Granta||DNS|
“Y” denotes Yokohama Independent Trophy competitor.