Yvan Muller clinched a double victory in the World Touring Car Championship's opening round of the season at Monza as he led home a Chevrolet 1-2-3, despite facing backwards at one point after contact from teammate Rob Huff.
The trio of factory Chevrolets had started the race from towards the back of the top ten due to the reverse grid, although their cause was helped by the absence of two SEATs that had been due to lineup ahead of them.
Aleksei Dudukalo should have started on the front row alongside polesitter Norbert Michelisz, but the Russian's Lukoil SEAT came to a halt on his out lap from the pits. Tuenti Racing Team's Pepe Oriola was due to be directly behind him on the fourth grid slot, but he had problems getting his car started and ended up beginning the race from pitlane.
This made life easy for Michelisz at the start who held onto the lead, with Tom Coronel making a fast getaway from the standing start in his rear-wheel drive BMW from the fifth grid slot, jumping ahead of Alex MacDowall's bamboo Chevrolet. Stefano D'Aste also made a fast start in his BMW to beat the factory Chevrolet drivers into the first chicane in fourth place overall.
Muller made a move on teammate Alain Menu as they began the second lap, with Huff also trying to make use of Muller's slipstream. As Muller braked, Huff hit him in the rear and the Frenchman lost control of his car – performing a full 360 degree spin. As a result of not having to go through the chicane he actually maintained his position ahead of Menu and Huff.
Gabriele Tarquini also got caught up in the incident, also making contact with Huff from behind as they all checked up under breaking. He came to a halt on the inside of the chicane with his race over as the Chevrolets escaped unharmed.
D'Aste took third from MacDowall on lap four, with the Brit then allowing the similar machines of Muller, Menu and Huff to go by. D'Aste soon had to surrender his position to Muller, who then took second place from Coronel on lap six. Coronel fought back at the start of the following lap, working his way around the outside at the first chicane. Muller soon had the place back again, just as leader Michelisz struck an unusual obstacle, in the form of a pigeon on the racing line.
The impact appeared to slow the Hungarian down, as he not only lost the lead to Muller but slumped all the way down to eighth by the checkered flag.
Menu and Huff followed Muller across the line for the brand's first podium lockout of the season, though Coronel was very close behind in fourth.
D'Aste took a very popular home win in the Yokohama Trophy as well as fifth overall, just ahead of Franz Engstler and MacDowall, who completed a strong debut weekend in the WTCC. Behind Michelisz in eighth was Alberto Cerqui – another rookie who scored points in both races – and Rickard Rydell.
|1||Yvan Muller||Chevrolet||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||10 laps in 20:07.643|
|2||Alain Menu||Chevrolet||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||0.307|
|3||Robert Huff||Chevrolet||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||0.613|
|4||Tom Coronel||ROAL||BMW 320 TC||0.993|
|5||Stefano D’Aste||Wiechers||BMW 320 TC||6.125|
|6||Franz Engstler||Engstler||BMW 320 TC||6.705|
|7||Alex MacDowall||Bamboo||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||7.247|
|8||Norbert Michelisz||Zengo||BMW 320 TC||10.238|
|9||Alberto Cerqui||ROAL||BMW 320 TC||12.663|
|10||Rickard Rydell||Chevrolet Sweden||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||14.066|
|11||Gabor Weber||Zengo||BMW 320 TC||14.202|
|12||Pepe Oriola||Tuenti||SEAT Leon WTCC||14.575|
|13||James Nash||Aon||Ford Focus S2000 TC||18.279|
|14||Mehdi Bennani||Proteam||BMW 320 TC||18.775|
|15||Andrea Barlesi||Sunred||SEAT Leon TDi||24.880|
|16||Tom Chilton||Aon||Ford Focus S2000 TC||25.586|
|17||Isaac Tutumlu||Proteam||BMW 320 TC||35.129|
|18||Tiago Monteiro||Tuenti||SEAT Leon TDi||+1 lap|
|19||Pasquale Di Sabatino||Bamboo||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||+2 laps|
|Gabriele Tarquini||Lukoil||SEAT Leon WTCC||1 lap|
|Charles Ng||Engstler||BMW 320 TC||1 lap|
|Aleksei Dudukalo||Lukoil||SEAT Leon WTCC||0 laps|