Robert Huff took his third victory of the 2011 World Touring Car Championship season by winning the opening race at Monza today, but there was drama on the final lap between his Chevrolet team-mates Yvan Muller and Alain Menu, with the latter being The three Chevrolets battle it out in Race 1 tipped into a spin by the former.

Menu’s last-lap retirement saw Tiago Monteiro manage to sneak onto the podium but only after out-dragging Norbert Michelisz in the last few hundred metres of the race in a made sprint to the finish line.

With the RML Chevrolet team assuming its customary 1-2-3 in qualifying for the opening race, Huff led Muller and Menu off the line from pole to assume a lead he would hold for the rest of the race.

But it wasn’t all plain sailing, with Muller keen to chalk up his first win of the season. Sensing an opportunity to get by Huff, he tried his move around the outside of the Parabolica at the end of the opening lap, but this compromised his exit onto the start/finish straight and he was passed by Menu into Turn 1.

Behind them, Monteiro had made a great start to leap into fourth place to be the leading SEAT, chased by Norbert Michelisz in the BMW.

Behind them, Gabriele Tarquini had also made a quick start off the line, and he had climbed up to seventh place, only to slow with a mechanical problem. He retired in the pits at the end of the fourth lap.

As the nine-lap race drew to a close, Menu now started to sense he had an opportunity to take the lead from Huff, and he had a crack at the Briton on the run into Turn 1, but was fended off.

Later around the lap, he would accidentally tag the back of Huff’s car – resulting in minor damage – but both would continue.

On the final lap, Muller had a lunge at Menu at the second Lesmo right-hander to try and wrest second place from his team-mate, but he only succeeded in punting the Swiss driver into the kitty litter and retirement when Menu tried to shut the door on the apex.

Behind them, Michelisz managed to squeeze by Monteiro to take fourth place – and what quickly became third, with Menu’s retirement – only for Monteiro to get a better run on the Hungarian as they exited the Parabolica for the final time. In a thrilling chase to the finish line, the honours went to Monteiro – by just 0.030 seconds!

Behind them, Tom Coronel finished in fifth place, with Kristian Poulsen just over a second behind. Darryl O’Young managed to hold out Javier Villa for seventh place, with Franz Engstler and Fredy Barth completing the top ten.

However, the results could quite well change with the Muller-Menu collision being one of three incidents that stewards will deliberate.

Race 2 begins shortly, with Tiago Monteiro starting from pole position.


2011 FIA WTCC Race of Italy Final Classification (Race 1 – 9 laps):

Driver Team Result
1. Robert Huff GBR RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 18:07.398
2. Yvan Muller FRA RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 1.291
3. Tiago Monteiro POR SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT + 4.239
4. Norbert Michelisz HUN Zengõ-Dension Team BMW 320TC BMW + 4.269
5. Tom Coronel NED ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW + 4.499
6. Kristian Poulsen DEN Team Engstler BMW 320TC BMW + 5.509
7. Darryl O’Young HKG Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 10.506
8. Javier Villa García ESP Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW + 10.798
9. Franz Engstler DEU Team Engstler BMW 320TC BMW + 11.492
10. Fredy Barth SUI Swiss SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT + 15.366
11. Mehdi Bennani MOR Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW + 18.439
12. Michel Nykjær DEN SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT + 18.873
13. Yukinori Taniguchi JPN Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 19.286
14. Pepe Oriola ESP SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT + 20.070
15. Robert Dahlgren SWE Polestar Volvo C30 Volvo + 30.709
16. Ibrahim Okyay TUR Borusan Otomotiv Motorsport BMW + 58.046
17. Urs Sonderegger SUI Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC BMW + 59.018
18. Fabio Fabiani ITA Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si BMW 1:25.422
19. Alain Menu SUI RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1 lap behind
20. Marchy Lee Ying Kin HKG KK Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW 1 lap behind
NF. Gabriele Tarquini ITA Lukoil-SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT 5 laps
NF. Aleksei Dudukalo RUS Lukoil-SUNRED SEAT León 2.0 TDI SEAT 2 laps
  Yvan Muller FRA RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 1:59.960

[Original images via FIA WTCC Media]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.