FIA World Touring Car Championship leader Yvan Muller drove a dominant race to take a lights to flag victory in race one at Brands Hatch this weekend.
Morning warm up would see Independent runner Colin Turkington top the times heading a BMW 1-2-3 followed by Rob Huff and Alain Menu; Muller was left languishing in seventh place.
Muller and Huff would lead the field in to Paddock Bend as the race got under way with a rolling start. Gabriele Tarquini jumped from fifth place past Turkington up to fourth.
Jordi GenÃ© would lose out on the opening lap as he battled with Augusto Farfus, as they headed in to Surtees, Farfus would squeeze GenÃ© on to the grass. The Spaniard would be force to lift off to avoid an accident.
Andy Priaulx drove a great opening lap as he made his way though the field from sixteenth place up to eleventh after gaining a grid penalty for changing his engine after qualifying. By the end of the opening lap Priaulx would be placed in twelth as Muller lead Huff, Menu, Tarquini, Turkington, Tom Coronel, Tiago Monteiro, Norbert Michelisz, Fredy Barth and Farfus.
Futher back Tom Boardman was also making up places as he drove by Carlos “CacÃ¡” Bueno, while Stefano D’Aste would manage to find his was passed Franz Engstler.
Lap four would see Turkington pass reigning WTCC champion Tarquini in the lighter BMW, the Ulsterman would then set his sights on the back of Menu’s Chevrolet Cruze. Barth would lose out as he the RBM BMW’s of Priaulx and Farfus came through at Druids.
The top ten on lap five were Muller, Huff, Menu, Turkington, Tarquini, Coronel, Monteiro, Michelisz, Farfus and Priaulx, who set the fastest lap of the race as he aimed to move up to eighth place and gain pole position for race two.
Norbert Michelisz gave it his best shot of defending the works BMWs but the pace of his SEAT LeÃ³n wasn’t up to that of the Bavarian motors as he was drifted on to the grass at Surtees.
While Farfus found his way by Monteiro for eighth Priaulx was forced to bide his time before he could get by the Portuguese driver.
With the two lead Chevrolet’s pulling out a gap from Menu, and the Swiss driver defending his third place hard it looked like there the RML team were on for a Cruze 1-2-3, this was until Bueno’s Cruze expired with the engine catching fire and forcing the safety car out while the marshalls cleared away the stricken car.
As the safety car came out Muller would lead from Huff, Menu, Turkington, Tarquini, Coronel, Farfus, Monteiro, Priaulx and Michelisz.
Lap twelve would see the race on with the safety car pulling back in to the pits. The race directors would add a further two laps to the total distance, leaving the drivers to do battle over the four remaining laps.
Andy Priaulx was pushing hard to find a way by Tiago Monteiro, but the SEAT driver wasn’t going to give up without a fight. It would take until lap 15 for the Guernseyman to find a way by and into the hallowed eighth place as he touched with Monteiro through Graham Hill Bend and finally completed the move through Surtees. Monteiro would later declare himself “pissed off” with the move, clearly feeling that Priaulx had unfairly pushed by.
Colin Turkington was another BMW driver on the hunt as he looked to take the final podium spot from Menu. As the field headed around Clark Curve the 2009 BTCC Champion managed to find a way by the Swiss driver. Menu would drop further places as he looked to gain an advantage in the second race, falling back to seventh place as the chequered flag fell.
Muller would lead home Huff as they securde a Chevrolet 1-2. Turkington would claim a clear Independent victory and and over all third place. Tarquini would bring in the best of the rest ahead of Tom Coronel, Augusto Farfus and Alain Menu.
Andy Priaulx took the eighth place after starting from sixteenth and would gain the pole position spot for race two. Tiago Monteiro and top rookie Norbert Michelisz would round out the top ten.
Robert Dahlgren gave the Volvo C30 a good run out managing to move up to eleventh place before eventually droppping back to thirteenth in the first of two WTCC apperances for Volvo Olsbergs Green Racing in 2010.