Yvan Muller Takes Lights-To-Flag Donington Win

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Yvan Muller controlled the first of the two World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) races at Donington Park, winning the 13 lap from his Chevrolet teammates Rob Huff and Alain Menu.

The Frenchman led from pole position at the rolling start, beating Rob Huff to Redgate as the Briton had to switch from attack to defence as Menu pushed the nose of his Cruze opportunistically up the inside line for the right hander. Once the three Cruzes had settled into their order, they began to pull away from the fight for fourth, held in the early laps by Gabriele Tarquini.

The SUNRED driver had raced to fourth at the end of lap one after starting tenth, making the most of the rolling start to take fifth by the time he reached the Old Hairpin. He benefitted from Colin Turkington having a moment down the Craner Curves, the lightest of touches from Tarquini sending Turkington's Wiechers-Sport BMW arrowing across the grass to rejoin at Schwantz Curve in tenth place. Tiago Montiero, who had started fourth lasted only a lap before a suspension failure forced him out of the race.

Tarquini's stay in fourth lasted only three laps before Tom Coronel took the place, Tarquini remaining fifth until the checkered flag, holding off Yokahama Trophy winner Franz Engstler by only half a second at the end of the race.

The main action of the race was behind the German. Michel Nykjaer played the role of the rolling roadblock, a phalanx of drivers gathering behind him in a nose to tail train. Turkington, after his lap one trip found himself behind Nykjaer and fellow Dane Kristian Poulsen. Warm-up session pace setter Robert Dahlgren, charging from the back row grid found his forward progress stopped in pack.

The close nature of the pack allowed others to catch the tail of the train, Norbert Michelisz eventually latching on as he too fought back from a poor qualifying. Dahlgren's pace was lost in the midst of the pack, and misjudged a passing move on Poulsen at Coppice. Contact left the blue Volvo riding up the right-rear of Poulsen's BMW. Despite the shower of parts flung to the outside of the corner both cars managed to continue, though Michelisz was not so lucky, spinning in the middle of the pack at the Melbourne Hairpin later the same lap, and though – fortunately – the was no further contact the Hungarian returned to the pits with broken steering to join Monteiro in retirement.

Franz Engstler won the race between Yokahama Trophy runners, pushing Tarquini for fifth on track

Turkington's frustrating race continued on lap seven, locking up into McLeans and running across the grass, dropping from eighth to 16th in the process. He ended the race back in the points in ninth, though only after some typical Touring Car driving forcing Fredy Barth and Mehdi Bennani off the circuit on separate occasions.

In the closing stages, Huff cancelled most of Muller's one second buffer, looking capable to taking his first WTCC win on home soil However, an injection of pace from Muller left the Briton still looking for a first home win, and with seven points chipped from his championship lead.

“I knew I was safe in two corners because the condition made it very easy to make a mistake,” Muller explained the pressure from Huff in the second half of the race, “so I was pushing hard on the dry part of the track but on the damp part I was safe.”

“I managed to keep the lead at the first corner that was most important,” said Muller. “Then I was just focussed to drive as fast as I can I had a very good car, it was just perfect. At the end there was a bit of rain, but it wasn't the same everywhere, it was very changeable, very complicated to drive in those conditions.”

Poulsen got the better of Nykjaer for seventh place, Darryl O'Young completing the top ten for Bamboo Engineering.

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James is our Diet-Coke fuelled writer and has been with TCF pretty much since day 1, he can be found frequenting twitter at @_JBroomhead
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