Alain Menu led Chevrolet teammates Yvan Muller and Rob Huff for the duration of the first World Touring Car Championship race at Suzuka.

The trio were never separated by more than a couple of seconds, but took the checkered flag in the same order they started the race.

Gabriele Tarquini was the best of the rest in his Lukoil SEAT, some 12 seconds behind the top three, having got by the independent Chevrolet of Alex MacDowall at the start.

Tarquini’s teammate Aleksei Dudukalo held off a train of cars to take P6. After starting fifth, Mehdi Bennani was up behind the Russian but made contact causing the Moroccan to spin. That promoted Tom Coronel, Pepe Oriola and Stefano D’Aste, while Tiago Monteiro took a point on the debut of the Honda Civic in tenth.

Franz Engstler was 11th and Darryl O’Young 12th in his first race back with bamboo engineering, while Tom Boardman led a queue of his own in 13th headed by Norbert Michelisz. James Nash was 15th ahead of Fernando Monje and the second Aon Ford of Tom Chilton. Local ace Hiroki Yoshimoto had got ahead of Boardman before he begun struggling for pace and dropped back.

Debutant Rene Munnich completed the finishers on the lead lap, with Masaki Kano finishing up a lap down in his normally-aspirated BMW ahead of Bennani who went to the pits after his spin. Charles Ng finished three laps down after a couple of incidents, while Alberto Cerqui spun out at turn two trying to pass Yoshimoto on lap 15.

D’Aste starts from pole in race two at 07:50 BST.