Muller takes maiden Chevrolet victory
|By Steven English||Sunday, March 7th 2010, 17:53 GMT|
Yvan Muller began his Chevorlet career with a victory in the World Touring Car season opener at Curitiba today, leading a 1-2-3 for the RML team.
The former world champion had pole, but had a safe getaway with the race beginning behind the safety car for the first two laps due to a deluge of rain in the half hour before the start.
Muller fought off a brief challenge from Jordi Gene's SEAT before controlling the rest of the race as the circuit dried. His team-mate Rob Huff closed in at around two thirds distance, but Muller able to stave off the attack to hold on to win.
Huff's hopes of victory slipped away when he had a half look at Muller on lap eight and lost momentum, and then slid wide over a kerb and fell over a second behind. He closed back up to Muller for the finish but ran out of laps to attempt a move for the lead.
Alain Menu completed the podium with a quiet run to third behind his team-mates. Gabriele Tarquini was an equally lonely fourth after breaking away from the two BMWs in the early stages.
Andy Priaulx seemed to struggle with his BMW in the wet conditions and backed team-mate Augusto Farfus into the SEAT of Tom Coronel. The Dutchman blasted by Farfus on the next straight, only to lose the place back to Farfus - and another to team-mate Gene - three laps later.
Farfus closed back up to Priaulx by the end, with Gene seventh. The Spaniard's front row qualifying performance came to nothing after he overshot corners three times in the opening laps as he struggled to slow his Leon in the wet. Coronel followed Gene home to claim pole position for race two.
Fredy Barth finished as the top rookie in ninth, passing Norbert Michelisz as he rejoined after being squeezed off the road by the Hungarian at Turn 1. The pair were followed home by the SEATs of Tiago Monteiro and Michel Nykjaer, with all four of the Leons overshooting corners at various stages of the race.
Sergio Hernandez finished as the top independent runner in 13th, in spite of a 10-place grid penalty for changing the engine in his BMW after the morning warm-up. He started last but moved into the lead of the class after contact between his team-mate Stefano D'Aste and the Bamboo Engineering Chevrolet Lacetti of Darryl O'Young.
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap 1. Yvan Muller Chevrolet 26m57.181s 2. Rob Huff Chevrolet +1.053 3. Alain Menu Chevrolet +5.582 4. Gabriele Tarquini SEAT +7.136 5. Andy Priaulx BMW +11.625 6. Augusto Farfus BMW +12.098 7. Jordi Gene SEAT +14.379 8. Tom Coronel SEAT +14.647 9. Fredy Barth SEAT +18.773 10. Norbert Michelisz SEAT +20.359 11. Tiago Monteiro SEAT +21.691 12. Michel Nykjaer SEAT +22.645 13. Sergio Hernandez BMW +34.973 14. Franz Engstler BMW +38.092 15. Darryl O'Young Chevrolet +44.692 16. Harry Vaulkhard Chevrolet +50.005 17. Stefano D'Aste BMW +50.742 18. Mehdi Bennani BMW 1:20.825 Retirements Andrey Romanov BMW 5 laps Fastest lap, Huff 1m33.904s