Muller, Chilton, MacDowall Maintain Cruze Dominance At Wet Monza

Yvan Muller - Photo Credit: FIA WTCC
Yvan Muller - Photo Credit: FIA WTCC

Yvan Muller, Tom Chilton and Alex MacDowall maintained their starting positions in a rain-soaked opening race of the World Touring Car Championship season at Monza, scoring a 1-2-3 finish for the Chevrolet Cruze in the first race without the manufacturer’s participation.

After the weather conditions necessitating a safety car start, poleman Muller led his new RML teammate Chilton from start to finish, despite his windscreen wipers failing. Chilton did well to stay within a second of Muller until the end, bettering his previous WTCC best result of seventh.

MacDowall took Yokohama Trophy honours and claimed a first outright podium finish for both himself and the Bamboo Engineering team.

After a penalty left him starting from ninth, Gabriele Tarquini enjoyed a strong debut run in the Honda Civic to finish fourth. The Italian took the place from Pepe Oriola, who retired soon afterwards to allow the second factory Honda car of Tiago Monteiro to take fifth.

Reigning champion Rob Huff came through from the back of the grid to finish in sixth in his Munnich Motorsport SEAT, with his last scalp being the second Bamboo Cruze of James Nash who slipped back after starting fifth.

Nash came under pressure late-on from another British-piloted SEAT, that of Tom Boardman and Special Tuning Racing. The pair made contact entering the Lesmos, with Boardman sustaining a broken wheel and stopping in the middle of the track.

Nash made it to the finish in seventh ahead of the third and final Honda of Zengo Motorsport entry Norbert Michelisz, another to make up a number of places in the tricky conditions. The BMWs of Tom Coronel and Fredy Barth made it to the finish to complete the top ten.

Stefano D’Aste had an expensive end to his first WTCC race with his own PB Racing team when he went off into the barriers on the exit of Ascari on lap four, bringing out the safety car.