Rob Huff scored his second victory of the World Touring Car season at Pau this afternoon
The Briton capitalised on a mistake by pole-sitter Augusto Farfus on the second lap and took the lead in his Chevrolet Cruze.
He then spent the remaining 17 laps soaking up relentless pressure from a line of four BMWs, but defended faultlessly on the narrow French street circuit.
The win follows Huff's maiden success for the new Cruze car at Marrakech two weeks ago, and is the third straight victory for Chevrolet with Nicola Larini having taken his first WTCC in race two in Morocco.
"This one was a lot harder [than Marrakech]," said Huff. "It's been a bit of a messy weekend with what's been going on [after qualifying] but I'm very pleased to have come through it and taken the win.
"I feel sorry for Augusto because he hit some oil that didn't seem to be there the lap before. I just managed to get through on the inside while he was slipping around on the outside."
Farfus was made to pay for his early mistake and had to settle for second behind Huff. Despite spending the rest of the race just inches from the Chevrolet's rear bumper he was unable to create an opportunity to pass. A sniff up the inside into Turn 1 was as close as he got, but he wasn't far enough alongside and thought better of it as the two cars turned in.
Jorg Muller completed the podium, ahead of Andy Priaulx who darted by Alain Menu to take fourth place at Turn 1 mid-way through the race. Menu tried to come back at Priaulx on the run to Turn 2 and touched the BMW as he tried to squeeze it. But the loss of momentum only allowed Sergio Hernandez to demote him to sixth at the next corner.
Menu slowed on the last lap to drop from sixth to eighth and ensure that he will start this afternoon's second race from pole position. That allowed Felix Porteiro and Franz Engstler ahead into sixth and seventh.
Tom Coronel had led the independents class for much of the race, but he got a tap in the boot from Porteiro behind and ran wide exiting the hairpin. He was passed by both Porteiro and Engstler on the way out and ended up ninth.
Tom Boardman completed the top 10 in the second SUNRED, albeit a long way adrift of Coronel.
The factory SEATs continued their miserable weekend with Yvan Muller leading the yellow train home in 12th place, half a minute down the road from the leaders.
Pos Driver Car Gap 1. Rob Huff Chevrolet 27m10.540s 2. Augusto Farfus BMW +0.261 3. Jorg Muller BMW +0.892 4. Andy Priaulx BMW +1.105 5. Sergio Hernandez BMW +1.943 6. Felix Porteiro BMW +9.241 7. Franz Engstler BMW +9.544 8. Alain Menu Chevrolet +9.550 9. Tom Coronel SEAT +11.050 10. Tom Boardman SEAT +23.983 11. Eric Cayrolle SEAT +31.504 12. Yvan Muller SEAT +32.037 13. Gabriele Tarquini SEAT +32.485 14. Rickard Rydell SEAT +33.322 15. Tiago Monteiro SEAT +34.067 16. Kristian Poulsen BMW +34.823 17. Jordi Gene SEAT +36.815 18. Viktor Shapovalov Lada +54.020 19. Mehdi Bennani SEAT +54.870 20. Marin Colak SEAT +1 lap Retirements Jaap van Lagen Lada 13 laps Stefano D'Aste BMW 12 laps Alex Zanardi BMW 12 laps Laurent Cazenave BMW 4 laps Nicola Larini Chevrolet 2 laps Kirill Ladygin Lada 0 laps Fastest lap, Hernandez 1:24.005
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