After starting tenth on the reverse grid Yvan Muller fought through to win a physical second race at Donington Park.
With faster cars – the three works Chevrolets, Gabriele Tarquini and Robert Dahlgren – fighting through the top ten it took less than a lap for the first incident when Michel Nykjaer was dumped off the track at Coppice. He had started second, but a poor start dropped him behind four BMWs as Tom Coronel led from pole followed by Javier Villa, Franz Engstler and Colin Turkington.
Still losing time Nykjaer was on the outside of Alain Menu and Tiago Monteiro as the trio wet three wide up the hill from McLeans. Though Menu's pass was clear Tarquini tried to push his way though the gap the Swiss had created, clattering into Monteiro, who pushed off Nykjaer. The incident put both the SUNRED drivers out of the race, Nykjaer deep in the gravel and Monteiro – justifiably unhappy – out with major suspension damage.
Tarquini's route into – at his peak second – also included another forceful move, this time to the inside of a fighting Villa and Menu at the chicane. Again, contact with Tarquini to the inside pushed everyone to the outside, both Villa and Menu having to skip across the gravel while Tarquini continued onwards.
Coronel's lead lasted only a lap before he locked up at McLeans, falling to fifth by the time he got back on track with Franz Engstler now leading. His lead lasted only as long as it took the Chevrolets to fight back to the front. Both Muller and Rob Huff passed Tarquini and Engstler during the course of lap five, Muller taking the lead under braking for the chicane, Huff followed him into second one corner later at the Melbourne Hairpin.
The two Chevrolets continued imperiously to the checkered flag, Muller sealing a second win of the weekend on he admitted was “probably” his best WTCC weekend. Engstler held on for third – his best WTCC result – ahead of a recovering Coronel. Alain Menu finished fifth having lost time at the hands of Tarquini, not only when he was bundled off at the chicane, but also when he was held up by the Italian later in the race.
Menu's pass, when it came on lap nine, was straight from Tarquini's form book, elbowing his way alongside the Leon to take the inside line for Coppice. Tarquini replied to being passed by out-braking himself for the chicane, allowing Robert Dahlgren to take sixth place for Polestar Volvo.
Darryl O'Young, Mehdi Bennani and Colin Turkington, another victim of a bump when he was spun out on lap two, completed the top ten.
In a race filled with contact one incident stood out. On lap two Muller outbraked himself for Goddards as he tried to pass O'Young's Bamboo Engineering Cruze. The Frenchman completed the pass, but then barrelled into the left-rear corner to Rob Huff ahead. The contact pushed Huff sideways, and allowed Muller through – it was the move that ultimately won the race.
“I hit Rob and I overtook him at the same time,” admitted Muller in the post-race press conference. “Like he hit me at Porto and he passed me at the same time, like many other people during the race. Of course it was not intentional but let's see what the stewards say.”
Huff described the moment from his point of view: “I was looking forward and I got hit from behind and the rest sorted itself out and the next thing Yvan was ahead of me. It's exactly as he said he hit me from behind, he took advantage of it. It's gone to the stewards with anyone to prompt it they've decided to investigate it but we'll have to see what the outcome is. If that's allowed, that's allowed but we're going to have some serious bumper cars for the rest of the year.”
The stewards later decides to hand Muller a three place grid penalty, suspended for two races.
Muller's double win – should he keep the second victory – has cut Huff's points lead to just 15 points with the championship next racing at Oschersleben, Germany on July 30-31.