Yvan Muller began his Chevrolet career in the best way possible with a lights-to-flag victory in the opening race of of the 2010 World Touring Car Championship season.
Making it an even better day for the Ray Mallock-backed squad, it was a Chevrolet trifecta, with Robert Huff taking second place ahead of Alain Menu.
Muller, the 2008 champion, had pole position for the opening race, which began behind the safety car after a deluge of rain hit the circuit before the race start.
The safety car pulled in after two laps, and Muller effectively assumed the race lead from fellow front row starter Jordi Gené. The Frenchman staved off a brief challenge from his former SEAT team-mate, and Robert Huff passed Jordi a few laps later.
Huff steadily began to close in on Muller at two-thirds distance, and the Briton had a half-look at Muller on lap 8, only to slide over a kerb and lose momentum. He was able to close the gap to Muller once again, but he ran out of laps to be able to challenge again.
Gabriele Tarquini finished as best of the SEAT runners in fourth place, managing to escape from the clutches of the factory BMWs. Andy Priaulx appeared to be struggling with his 320si in the damp conditions, and held up his team-mate August Farfus, which allowed the SEAT of Tom Coronel to close.
The Dutchman rocketed past Farfus on the straight, only to almost instantly be repassed. Farfus managed to close back up to Priaulx by the race’s end to take sixth.
Despite his front row start, Gené could only managed a seventh-placed finish as he struggled with his SEAT’s braking on the damp circuit, overshooting his braking three times. Coronel finished eighth and has pole position for Race 2.
SEAT’s Fredy Barth finished as the time rookie driver in ninth after a difficult qualifying session, repassing Norbert Michelisz after being squeezed off the circuit by the Hungarian at Turn 1. The duo was followed by another pair of SEATs, with Tiago Monteiro and Michel Nykjær.
Sergio Hernández took first place in the Independents’ Trophy and finished thirteenth overall after a storming drive from the back of the field, courtesy of a 10-place grid penalty when he changed his engine. The Spaniard moved to the lead on the final lap when his team-mate Stefano D’Aste made contact with the Bamboo Engineering of Darryl O’Young.
O’Young has been particularly impressive in his maiden WTCC outing, heading the Independents’ class in his first race outing in the Lacetti and on a wet track to boot. Being punted off-track on the last lap cost Chevrolet a complete whitewash on the podium.
Race 1 Final Classification:
|1.||Yvan Muller||RML Chevrolet Cruze LT||16||26:57.181|
|2.||Robert Huff||RML Chevrolet Cruze LT||16||+ 1.053|
|3.||Alain Menu||RML Chevrolet Cruze LT||16||+ 5.582|
|4.||Gabriele Tarquini||SR Sport SEAT León TDI||16||+ 7.136|
|5.||Andy Priaulx||RBM Team BMW 320si||16||+ 11.625|
|6.||Augusto Farfus||RBM Team BMW 320si||16||+ 12.098|
|7.||Jordi Gené||SR Sport SEAT León TDI||16||+ 14.379|
|8.||Tom Coronel||SR Sport SEAT León TDI||16||+ 14.647|
|9.||Fredy Barth||SUNRED SEAT León TDI||16||+ 18.773|
|10.||Norbert Michelisz||Zengö-Denison SEAT León TDI||16||+ 20.359|
|11.||Tiago Monteiro||SR Sport SEAT León TDI||16||+ 21.691|
|12.||Michel Nykjær||SUNRED SEAT León TDI||16||+ 22.645|
|13.||Sergio Hernández (I)||Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si||16||+ 34.973|
|14.||Franz Engstler (I)||Team Engstler BMW 320si||16||+ 38.092|
|15.||Darryl O’Young (I)||Bamboo Chevrolet Lacetti||16||+ 44.692|
|16.||Harry Vaulkhard (I)||Bamboo Chevrolet Lacetti||16||+ 50.005|
|17.||Stefan D’Aste (I)||Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si||16||+ 50.742|
|18.||Mehdi Bennani (I)||Wiechers Sport BMW 320si||16||+ 1:20.825|
|19.||Andrey Romanov (I)||Team Engstler BMW 320si||5||Accident|
(I) – denotes Independent Trophy driver