Rickard Rydell soaked up late pressure from polesitter Augusto Farfus to claim victory for SEAT in today's first World Touring Car race at Puebla.
Rydell jumped from fourth on the grid to first on the opening lap when he made the best job of the rolling start from the second row and drove around the outside of Andy Priaulx's BMW on the way to the first corner. He then eased alongside Farfus on the back straight and took the lead into Turn 12.
"Looking at the warm up, I knew I had to pass in the first or second lap othewise I wouldn't stand a chance," Rydell said. "I saw my chance when Augusto ran a little wide and I was able to take it."
The SEATs looked as though they would have the beating of the BMWs as Gabriele Tarquini and Yvan Muller pushed Priaulx down to fifth, but as the race wore on it was the BMW drivers that had the greater pace.
Priaulx repassed Muller into the first corner just two laps after losing the place, and then regained third from Tarquini with seven laps to go.
The BMWs then started to set fastest laps and Farfus ate into Rydell's lead, just as Jorg Muller took fifth from Tarquini. Farfus put Rydell under constant pressure in the last five laps but was unable to find a way through, while Priaulx - lapping a second faster than the leaders - closed up to the pair and even ran Farfus close for second on the final lap.
Chevrolet's new Cruze will start from the front for the first time in this afternoon's second race after Nicola Larini's quiet run to eighth. He will share the front row with SEAT's Jordi Gene, who had an equally eventless run to seventh.
Felix Porteiro was again the first independent runner home in 10th place, but it was far from an easy race. The Proteam Motorsport driver had qualified eighth and was challenging Jorg Muller for seventh into the first corner when the pair made contact and Porteiro spun.
He dropped several places and was as low as fourth of the independent runners before making his charge back to the class lead in just 10 laps.
Pos Driver Car Time 1. Rickard Rydell SEAT 26:40.728 2. Augusto Farfus BMW +1.508 3. Andy Priaulx BMW +1.986 4. Yvan Muller SEAT +4.620 5. Jorg Muller BMW +5.717 6. Gabriele Tarquini SEAT +9.473 7. Jordi Gene SEAT +19.399 8. Nicola Larini Chevrolet +22.794 9. Sergio Hernandez BMW +24.725 10. Felix Porteiro BMW +25.990 11. Tiago Monteiro SEAT +28.400 12. Stefano D'Aste BMW +30.289 13. Alex Zanardi BMW +33.765 14. Franz Engstler BMW +33.952 15. Tom Coronel SEAT +34.302 16. Tom Boardman SEAT +45.954 17. Jaap van Lagen Lada +46.557 18. Kirill Ladygin Lada +57.945 19. Viktor Shapovalov Lada +3 laps Retirements Alain Menu Chevrolet 11 laps Robert Huff Chevrolet 6 laps George Tanev BMW 0 laps Kristian Poulsen BMW 0 laps Marin Colak SEAT 0 laps Fastest lap, Priaulx 1:38.076