Polesitter Jose Maria Lopez survived a touch from Gabriele Tarquini at Turn 1 to claim his fourth World Touring Car Championship victory of the season at Moscow Raceway.
Factory Honda drivers Tarquini and Tiago Monteiro, starting second and third, had stated their intention to be aggressive prior to the start as they sought to earn the Japanese manufacturer's maiden win of 2014.
Both Civic WTCCs initially appeared to have made the jump on Lopez, who was forced to make a bold manoeuvre around Tarquini's outside at the first corner.
Former Formula 1 driver Monteiro mildly ran into the back of Tarquini into the braking zone, sending the Italian into the side of Lopez, who was forced onto the asphalt run-off.
Thereafter, championship leader Lopez was in control, securing a 3.1-second margin of victory over Tarquini.
Monteiro was passed by nine-time World Rally champion Sebastien Loeb for third further around the lap, and soon came under attack from the Frenchman's factory Citroen team-mate Yvan Muller.
Reigning WTCC champion Muller pressured Monteiro into a mistake at the final corner at the conclusion of the fourth lap. But in the confusion as Monteiro ran off the road, dropping to seventh, Muller was jumped by an opportunistic Tom Chilton on the exit.
ROAL Chevrolet driver Chilton kept Muller in his mirrors until the final lap. The Alsace star finally achieved an overlap on Chilton's Cruze onto the pits straight, setting up a successful passing move at Turn 1.
The sixth round of the championship at Moscow Raceway marked the first appearance of the season of Ma Qing Hua in a fourth Citroen C-Elysee.
The Chinese former F1 Friday driver worked his way up from ninth to sixth, lapping at a respectable pace compared to team-mates Loeb and Muller.
Chilton's ROAL team-mate Tom Coronel, who qualified a lowly 13th after suffering an oversteer moment at Turn 3 on Saturday, produced an exuberant, rally-style, manoeuvre at the final corner to pass Zengo Motorsport driver Norbert Michelisz for eighth.
Race two polesitter Hugo Valente was clattered out of the race by the wayward Campos Chevrolet of team-mate Dusan Borkovic at the end of lap two.
Borkovic reported that his car had previously sustained damage on the opening lap, affecting the tow and braking, which may have contributed to the accident.
Results - 16 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Jose Maria Lopez Citroen 27m05.120s 2. Gabriele Tarquini Honda +3.170s 3. Sebastien Loeb Citroen +3.425s 4. Yvan Muller Citroen +5.902s 5. Tom Chilton ROAL Chevrolet +6.816s 6. Ma Qing Hua Citroen +7.505s 7. Tiago Monteiro Honda +13.099s 8. Tom Coronel ROAL Chevrolet +15.061s 9. Norbert Michelisz Zengo Honda +24.766s 10. Rob Huff Lada +27.754s 11. Mehdi Bennani Proteam Honda +28.067s 12. Gianni Morbidelli Munnich Chevrolet +28.579s 13. Rene Munnich Munnich Chevrolet +29.323s 14. James Thompson Lada +35.188s 15. Mikhail Kozlovskiy Lada +38.472s 16. Franz Engstler Engstler BMW +1m12.432s* 17. Pasquale Di Sabatino Engstler BMW +1m24.023s* 18. John Filippi Campos SEAT +1m37.942s* Retirements: Nikita Misiulia Campos SEAT 7 laps* Hugo Valente Campos Chevrolet 1 lap Dusan Borkovic Campos Chevrolet 1 lap * TC2