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Muller starts title defence with a win

Yvan Muller leads the start of the first Curitiba WTCC raceYvan Muller led the opening World Touring Car race of the year from start to finish at Curitiba this afternoon.

The reigning champion led away from pole position and maintained a comfortable margin over his pursuing SEAT teammates, even through a mid-race safety car period.

The line of five SEATs was penetrated by BMW's home hero Augusto Farfus at the start as he picked off Tiago Monteiro in the first turns.

Mayhem erupted behind as Chevrolet's Alain Menu led half the field over the grass run-off at Turn 2 when he too tried to pass Monteiro. Jorg Muller then made contact with fellow BMW driver Andy Priaulx and was pitched into Menu, taking all three cars off the road. Priaulx rejoined at the back of the pack, but Muller and Menu had to pit.

The race was broken up half way through when Stefano D'Aste spun into the wall and the safety car restart gave Monteiro the opportunity to reclaim his fifth place from Farfus. He was already alongside as they crossed the line and Nicola Larini's Chevrolet also followed through into Turn 1.

But with just two laps to go, Monteiro slipped back to eighth after running wide exiting the final corner as he tried to fend off Larini. As a result he will start the second race from pole position, sharing the front row with Sergio Hernandez, ahead of Farfus and Larini.

Priaulx fought back through the field in his wounded BMW but finished just one place short of claiming the reverse grid pole in ninth.

Felix Porteiro won the independent class in 10th place overall. The BMW driver had looked capable of breaking into the top eight, but he lost ground after contact with Rob Huff and finished one place ahead of his chief independent rival Tom Coronel.

Pos Driver                 Car            Time/gap
 1. Yvan Muller            SEAT         26:45.799
 2. Jordi Gene             SEAT            +2.098
 3. Rickard Rydell         SEAT            +2.880
 4. Gabriele Tarquini      SEAT            +3.501
 5. Nicola Larini          Chevrolet       +7.183
 6. Augusto Farfus         BMW             +7.766
 7. Sergio Hernandez       BMW             +8.152
 8. Tiago Monteiro         SEAT            +8.767
 9. Andy Priaulx           BMW            +12.128
10. Felix Porteiro         BMW            +13.441
11. Tom Coronel            SEAT           +15.971
12. Alex Zanardi           BMW            +16.105
13. Tom Boardman           SEAT           +16.990
14. Frank Engstler         BMW            +20.829
15. Jaap van Lagen         Lada           +24.116
16. George Tanev           BMW            +24.868
17. Viktor Shapovalov      Lada           +26.339
18. Kirill Ladygin         Lada           +27.540
19. Jorg Muller            BMW            +5 laps


    Marin Colak            SEAT           13 laps
    Kristian Poulsen       BMW            13 laps
    Rob Huff               Chevrolet      5 laps
    Stefano D'Aste         BMW            4 laps
    Alain Menu             Chevrolet      2 laps

Fastest lap, Y Muller 1:25.662
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