Yvan Muller showed the American crowds who’s the boss in the World Touring Car Championship by winning the series’ first race in the United States at Sonoma.
Things got off to a bang when front row starters Alain Menu and Gabriele Tarquini made contact into turn two, forcing the Italian to run off-road and lose a few spots. Muller and Rob Huff took advantage to make it a Chevrolet 1-2-3.
The trio of Cruzes battled for the lead and on lap four Muller dived down the inside of Menu with Huff following him through the opened door. Menu then slowed with a car issue and went into the pits.
Huff kept Muller on his toes but had to settle for second, crossing the finish line half a second behind the Frenchman.
Norbert Michelisz steered his way through the first lap chaos to finish up in third place. Tarquini finished up in fourth, although he did come under pressure from Alex MacDowall at one stage. MacDowall made a mistake that brought Tiago Monteiro onto his tail, but the young Cumbrian remained ahead to take fifth.
Franz Engstler was seventh ahead of Tom Coronel, who survived contact with fellow BMW Mehdi Bennani that sent the Moroccan into a spin to move from his lowly 20th grid slot up to eighth. Stefano D’Aste was ninth with Tom Boardman completing the top ten.
Bennani recovered to come home 11th ahead of Tom Chilton, who’s Aon Ford was caught up in the opening lap drama. American Robb Holland finished his first WTCC race in 13th ahead of Darryl O’Young while Charles Ng was the final finisher after a mid-race spin.
Pepe Oriola’s SEAT crawled to a halt on the start-finish line with a few laps to go with his teammate Fernando Monje also failing to finish. James Nash retired in the second of the Aon Fords, while Alberto Cerqui was a first-lap casualty in his ROAL Motorsport BMW.
Race two takes place at 21:35 BST.