Rob Huff drew first blood in the 2011 World Touring Car Championship title fight by taking a lights-to-flag victory in the opening race of the season at Curitiba in Brazil.
The Briton led home reigning champion Yvan Muller and local ace Caca Bueno to record a 1-2-3 finish for Chevrolet in the first race for the Cruze 1.6T.
As the leading trio finished the race in the order that they had started, Tom Coronel came out on top in a fight with Kristian Poulsen to finish as top BMW driver. Both made good getaways at the rolling starts, with ROAL Motorsport driver Coronel climbing from eighth on the grid into fifth, just behind Team Engstler's Poulsen who had climbed from fifth to challenge Bueno for third at the first corner.
As the Dane came under pressure from the Dutchman he ran wide onto the grass on lap three, allowing Coronel to pass him. Poulsen held onto the back of Coronel though, and on lap 11 the pair ran side by side, with Poulsen coming out on top. However, on the last lap Coronel was able to take the place back. With Coronel ineligible for the Yokohama Trophy, Poulsen joined the Chevrolet drivers on the podium as the winner of the category for independent drivers.
Having started the race down in tenth, fourth Chevrolet driver Alain Menu was able to recover up to sixth halfway through the race, but could not take advantage of the BMW drivers' battle to move further up. Gabriele Tarquini finished as the best of the SUNRED SEATs in seventh, just ahead of Nykjaer, who won the Jay-Ten Trophy for independent drivers of cars complying with the 2010 technical regulations.
BMW drivers Franz Engstler and Mehdi Bennani rounded out the top ten and the final points-paying positions. The only retirement was Darryl O'Young, who slid off the track in his Chevrolet Lacetti on lap 5.
Race result after 14 laps:
|1||Robert Huff||Chevrolet||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||19:29.481|
|2||Yvan Muller||Chevrolet||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+0.873|
|3||Carlos Bueno||Chevrolet||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+3.924|
|4||Tom Coronel||ROAL||BMW 320 TC||+12.714|
|5||Y||Kristian Poulsen||Engstler||BMW 320 TC||+13.004|
|6||Alain Menu||Chevrolet||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+13.402|
|7||Gabriele Tarquini||SUNRED||SEAT Leon 2.0 TDI||+14.214|
|8||Y||Michel Nykjaer||SUNRED||SEAT Leon 2.0 TDI||+14.716|
|9||Y||Franz Engstler||Engstler||BMW 320 TC||+19.100|
|10||Y||Mehdi Bennani||Proteam||BMW 320 TC||+19.591|
|11||Tiago Monteiro||SUNRED||SEAT Leon 2.0 TDI||+20.001|
|12||Robert Dahlgren||Polestar||Volvo C30||+20.343|
|13||Y||Pepe Oriola||SUNRED||SEAT Leon 2.0 TDI||+25.098|
|14||Y||Javier Villa||Proteam||BMW 320 TC||+25.527|
|15||Y||Fredy Barth||SUNRED||SEAT Leon 2.0 TDI||+28.285|
|16||Y||Marchy Lee||KK||BMW 320 TC||+41.400|
|17||Y||Aleksei Dudukalo||SUNRED||SEAT Leon 2.0 TDI||+41.820|
|18||Y||Yukinori Taniguchi||Bamboo||Chevrolet Lacetti||+45.265|
|19||Y||Fabio Fabiani||Proteam||BMW 320si||+1 lap|
|Ret||Y||Darryl O'Young||Bamboo||Chevrolet Lacetti||4 laps|