Yvan Muller won the opening WTCC race at Portugal to extend his championship points lead

Reigning world Touring Car Championship title-holder Yvan Muller has extended his lead in the Drivers’ title race by claiming his sixth victory of the season, narrowly holding out Gabriele Tarquini in a closely-fought opening race at Portugal’s Autódromo Internacional do Algarve circuit.

Starting from the front row for the opening race’s rolling start, the Frenchman swept around the outside of pole-sitter Tarquini to take the lead at Turn 1.

Muller sweeps into the lead at Turn 1

Tarquini held on doggedly to Muller’s coattails for the remainder of the race, but his attention was also focused on keeping Muller’s team-mate (and main championship rival) Robert Huff at bay, with the Englishman launching several unsuccessful attacks on wrestling second place from the SEAT driver.

Huff had managed to get by Norbert Michelisz at the start, and the pair ran in that order for the entire race, with Michelisz steadily dropping back to finish a rather solitary fourth in his BMW.

Alain Menu charged from ninth to finish fifthThe big mover of the race was Alain Menu – racing this weekend in the colours of comic book racer Michel Vaillante – with the Swiss driver consolidating his third place in the championship standings with a climb to fifth place from his ninth-placed starting position.

After half-spinning Aleksei Dudukalo out of the way on the opening lap, Menu then set about moving up the order with some neat passing moves on Tiago Monteiro and Tom Coronel to secure fifth place.

Coronel and local driver Monteiro would finish sixth and seventh respectively, while the top ten was rounded our by WTCC rookie Alberto Cerqui, SEAT’s teenage sensation Pepe Oriola and Bamboo Chevrolet racer Alex MacDowell.


2012 FIA WTCC Race of Portugal – Race 1 Final Classification (11 laps):

Driver Team Result YIT
1. Yvan Muller FRA RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 21:20.620  
2. Gabriele Tarquini ITA Lukoil Racing SEAT León WTCC SEAT + 0.336  
3. Robert Huff GBR RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 0.951  
4. Norbert Michelisz HUN Zengõ Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW + 6.699 Y
5. Alain Menu SUI RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 13.669  
6. Tom Coronel NED ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW + 17.053  
7. Tiago Monteiro POR Tuenti Racing SR León 1.6T Sunred + 20.172  
8. Alberto Cerqui ITA ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW + 20.442 Y
9. Pepe Oriola ESP Tuenti Racing Team SEAT León WTCC SEAT + 21.134 Y
10. Alex MacDowell GBR Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 21.723 Y
11. Stefano D’Aste ITA Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC BMW + 22.453 Y
12. Franz Engstler DEU Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC BMW + 26.142 Y
13. Darryl O’Young HKG Special Tune Racing SEAT León WTCC SEAT + 29.066 Y
14. Tom Boardman GBR Special Tune Racing SEAT León WTCC SEAT + 29.813 Y
15. Pasquale di Sabatino ITA Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 34.752 Y
16. Tom Chilton GBR Team Aon Ford Focus S2000 TC Ford + 42.163  
17. James Thompson GBR TMS LADA Granta Sport WTCC Lada + 1 lap  
  Not Classified    
NF. Charles Ka-Ki Ng HKG Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC BMW + 31.897 Y
NF. James Nash GBR Team Aon Ford Focus S2000 TC Ford + 24.446  
NF. Mehdi Bennani MOR Proteam Racing BMW 320TC BMW + 10.983 Y
NF. Gábor Wéber HUN Zengõ Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW + 20.950 Y
NF. Aleksei Dudukalo RUS Lukoil Racing SEAT León WTCC SEAT + 30.396 Y


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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.
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