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Spa WTCC: Yvan Muller takes comfortable win in race one

Yvan Muller wins Spa WTCC 2014

Yvan Muller scored a comfortable fourth World Touring Car Championship victory of the season on the series' return to Spa-Francorchamps for the first time since 2005.

The reigning WTCC champion's success was assisted by an intense intra-team fight in his mirrors between Citroen team-mates Sebastien Loeb and championship leader Jose Maria Lopez.

Loeb was forced to make repeated moves to cover his inside line from Lopez's advances into the Les Combes chicane. The triple TC2000 champion left it until the last lap before committing himself to a bold manoeuvre around World Rally Championship legend Loeb's outside.

Loeb appeared to cooperate and give his stable-mate racing room by mounting Les Combes' inside kerbs, allowing Lopez to complete the pass without contact.

The intense battle allowed Muller to secure a 3.6s margin of victory, and the Alsace driver reduced his deficit to Lopez in the standings by seven points, having started the race some 39 points adrift.

The Citroen men displayed arguably their most pronounced domination of the season. Muller finished a commanding 21s ahead of Hungaroring victor Gianni Morbidelli.

Morbidelli had qualified a lowly ninth, but took advantage of confusion on the run from Eau Rouge to Les Combes on the opening lap to gain four places.

The drama was precipitated when fourth-place starter Hugo Valente ran wheel-to-wheel with Gabriele Tarquini into Eau Rouge. Tarquini was presented with little option other than to lift, and the chasing pack fanned across the road in search of racing room as the C-Elysees and Valente staged a break.

Morbidelli emerged from chaos at Les Combes holding fifth place, narrowly ahead of the grid-penalised Tiago Monteiro, who was up from 10th.

Valente circulated alone in fourth place until being called in to serve a drive-through penalty on lap five for track limits infringements. Proteam Honda racer Mehdi Bennani received a similar punishment from race officials.

Monteiro mounted a last-lap attack on Morbidelli for fourth into the Bus Stop. The late-braking may have compromised the former grand prix driver's exit as Tom Coronel took advantage to steal fifth by 0.073s on the run to the line.

Lada racer Rob Huff, who has also been participating in this weekend's Nurburgring 24 Hours, suffered a first lap trip through the gravel on the exit of Les Combes but recovered to finish 16th.

1Yvan MullerCitroen Total WTCCCitroen922m09.364s
2Jose Maria LopezCitroen Total WTCCCitroen93.689s
3Sebastien LoebCitroen Total WTCCCitroen94.318s
4Gianni Munnich MotorsportChevrolet921.125s
5Tom CoronelROAL MotorsportChevrolet921.998s
6Tiago MonteiroCastrol Honda WTC TeamHonda922.071s
7Norbert MicheliszZengo MotorsportHonda923.517s
8Gabriele TarquiniCastrol Honda WTC TeamHonda924.350s
9Dusan BorkovicNIS Petrol by Campos RacingChevrolet930.094s
10Tom ChiltonROAL MotorsportChevrolet930.940s
11Ma Qing HuaCitroen Total WTCCCitroen931.821s
12Hugo ValenteCampos RacingChevrolet939.719s
13Mehdi BennaniProteam RacingHonda945.992s
14Mikhail KozlovskiyLADA Sport LukoilLada947.654s
15Rene Munnich MotorsportChevrolet948.196s
16Rob HuffLADA Sport LukoilLada957.311s
17James ThompsonLADA Sport LukoilLada91m09.895s
18Franz EngstlerLiqui Moly Team EngstlerBMW91m28.674s
19John FilippiCampos RacingSEAT91m42.573s
20Norbert NagyCampos RacingSEAT91m43.916s
21Pasquale Di SabatinoLiqui Moly Team EngstlerBMW81 Lap
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