Alain Menu - Photo Credit: fiawtcc.com

Alain Menu on his way to victory at Suzuka - Photo Credit: fiawtcc.com

Alain Menu won the first World Touring Car Championship race at Suzuka, with Rob Huff finishing second to cut the gap to Yvan Muller in the standings.

The start of the race saw carnage at the first couple of corners. Robert Dahlgren, who had started third in the Polestar Volvo, was fired off into the barrier before Turn 1. Further contact into Turn 2 wiped out Tiago Monteiro and Tom Coronel amongst others.

The three Chevrolets escaped unharmed up front, with Muller jumping polesitter Menu into the lead of the race. The opening lap incident saw the safety car come out, staying out until the end of the sixth lap.

At the restart the positions remained the same, but one lap later Muller allowed Menu back past into the lead into Turn 1. Muller then handed second place to Huff when he lost the rear end of his car going through the last couple of corners. Michel Nykjaer also made it through into third.

Up front Menu pulled away from Huff and took the checkered flag three seconds ahead of the Briton. Muller meanwhile couldn't really challenge Nykjaer for the final podium place, and in fact had to defend from another Dane in Kristian Poulsen.

Local driver Yukinori Taniguchi ended up in sixth place after the first lap havoc, but was passed by Colin Turkington on lap 14. Taniguchi held on under pressure from Mehdi Bennani and Gabriele Tarquini late on to finish seventh. Tarquini had got caught up in the opening lap scuffle and had to pit to repair damage but worked his way back up to finish ninth. Norbert Michelisz completed the top ten.

Race 1 results – 25 laps:

Pos Driver Team Car Time/Gap
1 Alain Menu Chevrolet Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T 25:50.919
2 Robert Huff Chevrolet Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T 3.133
3 Michel Nykjaer Sunred Sunred SR Leon 1.6T 3.766
4 Yvan Muller Chevrolet Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T 4.441
5 Kristian Poulsen Engstler BMW 320 TC 4.851
6 Colin Turkington Wiechers BMW 320 TC 8.601
7 Yukinori Taniguchi Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T 13.472
8 Mehdi Bennani Proteam BMW 320 TC 13.730
9 Gabriele Tarquini Sunred Sunred SR Leon 1.6T 14.045
10 Norbert Michelisz Zengo BMW 320 TC 14.478
11 Franz Engstler Engstler BMW 320 TC 15.950
12 Javier Villa Proteam BMW 320 TC 20.554
13 Darryl O’Young Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T 20.833
14 Masaki Kano KK BMW 320 TC 25.889
15 Toshihiro Arai Chevrolet Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T 26.767
16 Charles Ng Engstler BMW 320si 39.298
17 Aleksei Dudukalo Sunred Sunred SR Leon 1.6T 46.031
18 Pepe Oriola Sunred Sunred SR Leon 1.6T + 5 laps
Ret Hiroki Yoshimoto Sunred Sunred SR Leon 1.6T 11 laps
NC Tom Coronel ROAL BMW 320 TC 5 laps
Ret Fredy Barth Sunred Sunred SR Leon 1.6T 2 laps
Ret Robert Dahlgren Polestar Volvo C30 Drive 0 laps
Ret Tiago Monteiro Sunred Sunred SR Leon 1.6T 0 laps