Yvan Muller recovered from a poor start to win the opening race of the World Touring Car Championship round at Paul Ricard ahead of Citroen team-mate Sebastien Loeb, who charged from the back row of the grid to claim the championship lead.
In damp conditions, pole-sitter Muller bogged down at the start which allowed the Hondas of Gabriele Tarquini and Norbert Michelisz to move ahead.
It did not take long for Muller to fight back however, moving into the lead on lap three and going on to claim his maiden win for Citroen by a margin of over 12 seconds.
Loeb and final Citroen driver Jose Maria Lopez were forced to start 17th and 18th respectively after failing post-qualifying scrutineering. The pair fought their way through the pack in the tricky conditions, with Loeb taking second place away from Tarquini with a couple of laps remaining to make it a one-two finish for Citroen and for France on home soil.
Tarquini claimed Honda’s first podium of the season in third ahead of Lopez, who made contact with Michelisz as he passed the Hungarian. Michelisz slipped to seventh by the finish behind the Lada of Rob Huff and the Chevrolet of Hugo Valente, who spent much of the race battling. Huff jumped from tenth to fifth at the start and finished in the same place thanks to his passing moves on Valente and Michelisz, despite the Citroens coming through.
Tiago Monteiro, Tom Chilton and James Thompson completed the top ten.
Loeb and Lopez will again start from the back for race two, with Mehdi Bennani on pole.