Alain Menu won the frist World Touring Car Championship race at the Hungaroring, denying local hero Norbert Michelisz a win at his home circuit.
Menu started from pole position in his Chevrolet, with teammate Yvan Muller alongside. Muller was tapped into a slide at Turn 1 by the fighting BMWs of Tom Coronel and Javier Villa. This allowed Michelisz to slip through into second place behind Muller.
The Hungarian enjoyed magnificent support from the home fans, who flocked to the circuit in their thousands to cheer on their man. He closed the gap to Menu in the opening half of the race, but the Swiss driver maintained a healthy advantage to claim the victory. Michelisz followed in second place, scoring his first podium with the Zengo BMW.
Like Michelisz, Gabriele Tarquini was able to avoid trouble at Turn 1 and moved up into third. His SUNRED SEAT did not have the pace however and he spent the race having to defend his position from Villa as well as Muller and Rob Huff. Villa was eventually able to get past at Turn 1 on the final lap. However, as Tarquini attempted to regain the position Villa ran wide at Turn 5, making contact with Tarquini as he rejoined for Turn 6, pushing the Italian wide. This allowed both Huff and Muller through past Tarquini, Huff also passing Muller at the same moment. Villa’s podium finish was his first since joining the WTCC at the beginning of the season.
Behind that quartet Tiago Monteiro finished seventh ahead of Fredy Barth, who together with Pepe Oriola in tenth scored points on the race debut of SUNRED’s 1.6 turbo engine. Kristian Poulsen finished between Barth and Oriola in ninth. Darryl O’Young and Tom Coronel had been fighting over eighth and ninth for most of the race before O’Young was handed a drive-through penalty for cutting Turn 4 (together with Michel Nykjaer and Mehdi Bennani), while Coronel retired his car in the closing stages.
Race results (top 10) after 12 laps:
1. Alain Menu (Chevrolet) 23m45.874s
2. Norbert Michelisz (Zengo BMW) + 1.047s
3. Javier Villa (Proteam BMW) + 17.383s
4. Rob Huff (Chevrolet) + 17.983s
5. Yvan Muller (Chevrolet) + 18.365s
6. Gabriele Tarquini (SUNRED SEAT) + 18.780s
7. Tiago Monteiro (SUNRED SEAT) + 19.374s
8. Fredy Barth (SUNRED) + 24.349s
9. Kristian Poulsen (Engstler BMW) + 24.481s
10. Pepe Oriola (SUNRED) + 26.555s