Huff leads Chevy podium sweep

Rob Huff christened the new 1.6 turbo-powered Chevrolet Cruze with a debut victory in the opening round of the 2011 World Touring Car Championship at Curitiba

Huff leads Chevy podium sweep

After locking out the first three places on grid, the Ray Mallock-prepared Chevrolets fulfilled their qualifying form by dominating the race. Briton Huff reaped the advantage of pole to lead every lap, holding off reigning world champion Yvan Muller by 0.8 seconds at the chequered flag.

Muller was unable to stage an overtaking attempt through the duration of the race. In turn, the Frenchman's runner-up position was secure from triple Brazilian Stock Car champion 'Caca' Bueno. Following a difficult introduction to the championship at Brands Hatch last year, local star Bueno had a greatly improved second WTCC outing and took the final spot on the podium.

The battle for fourth compensated for the lack of action at the front. A fast-starting Kristian Poulsen challenged Bueno for third around the outside of Turn 1, but as the Chevrolets pulled clear, the Engstler driver came under attack from a charging Tom Coronel's similar, ROAL Motorsport run, BMW 320.

A mistake by Poulsen at the exit of Esse da Baixa, in which he ran wide and kicked up a plume of dirt, allowed Coronel to seize his chance and steal fourth. Poulsen swiftly recovered the lost ground, and three laps from home dived inside Coronel under braking for Entrada do Miolo, a long right-hand corner. Coronel resisted, and the pair ran Yokohama to Yokohama through the following Pinheirinho sequence.

While Poulsen briefly reclaimed the position, Coronel took the place back for good on the last lap. Ominously for Chevrolet's opposition, Coronel finished a little over 12s adrift of winner Huff.

After a troubled qualifying, Alain Menu made use of some decisive moves and his Chevrolet's superiority to swiftly move up the order. The Swiss cleared squabbling SUNRED SEAT team-mates Gabriele Tarquini and Michel Nykjaer at mid-distance, and had reached the tail of the BMW battle at the flag, where just 0.7s seconds would cover the fourth to sixth-placed cars.

Results - 14 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Rob Huff Chevrolet 19m29.481s 2. Yvan Muller Chevrolet + 0.873s 3. Carlos Bueno Chevrolet + 3.924s 4. Tom Coronel ROAL BMW + 12.714s 5. Kristian Poulsen Engstler BMW + 13.004s 6. Alain Menu Chevrolet + 13.402s 7. Gabriele Tarquini SUNRED SEAT + 14.214s 8. Michel Nykjaer SUNRED SEAT + 14.716s 9. Franz Engstler Engstler BMW + 19.100s 10. Mehdi Bennani Proteam BMW + 19.591s 11. Tiago Monteiro SUNRED SEAT + 20.001s 12. Robert Dahlgren Polestar Volvo + 20.343s 13. Pepe Oriola SUNRED SEAT + 25.098s 14. Javier Villa Proteam BMW + 25.527s 15. Fredy Barth SUNRED SEAT + 28.285s 16. Marchy Lee KK BMW + 41.400s 17. Aleksei Dudukalo SUNRED SEAT + 41.820s 18. Yukinori Taniguchi bamboo Chevrolet + 45.265s 19. Fabio Fabiani Proteam BMW + 1 lap Retirements: Darryl O'Young bamboo Chevrolet 4 laps 
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