Yvan Muller lead home teammate Tom Chilton to claim victory in the opening WTCC race at Monza

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.

Tarquini navigated the appalling conditions to finish in fourth placeThe 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):

Driver Team Result YIT
1. Yvan Muller FRA RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 30:02.783  
2. Tom Chilton GBR RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 0.923  
3. Alex MacDowall GBR Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 5.101 Y
4. Gabriele Tarquini ITA Castrol Honda Civic WTCC Honda + 8.053  
5. Tiago Monteiro POR Castrol Honda Civic WTCC Honda + 15.261
6. Robert Huff GBR Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC SEAT + 17.349  
7. James Nash GBR Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 19.964 Y
8. Norbert Michelisz HUN Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC Honda + 20.388
9. Tom Coronel NED ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW + 28.837
10. Fredy Barth SUI Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC BMW + 37.740 Y
11. Jean-Philippe Dayraut FRA ANOME BMW 320TC BMW + 39.226 Y
12. Fernando Monje ESP Campos Racing Team SEAT León WTCC SEAT + 41.656 Y
13. Darryl O’Young HKG ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW + 48.116 Y
14. Marc Basseng DEU Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC SEAT + 50.920  
15. Charles Ka-Ki Ng HKG Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC BMW + 54.412 Y
16. René Münnich DEU Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC SEAT + 58.733 Y
17. Mehdi Bennani MOR Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW + 2:05.913 Y
18. Tom Boardman GBR Special Tune Racing SEAT León WTCC SEAT + 2 laps Y
19. Franz Engstler DEU Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC BMW + 2 laps Y
20. Michel Nykjær DEN NIKA Racing Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 2 laps Y
  Not Classified Result  
NF. Pepe Oriola ESP Tuenti Racing Team SEAT León WTCC SEAT 8 laps Y
NF. Stefano D’Aste ITA PB Sport BMW 320TC BMW 3 laps Y
NS. James Thompson GBR LADA Sport Granta LADA DNS  
NS. Aleksei Dudukalo RUS LADA Sport Granta LADA DNS

“Y” denotes Yokohama Independent Trophy competitor.

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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.