Alfa Romeo's Nicola Larini won the opening FIA European Touring Car Championship race at Spa-Francorchamps today (Saturday), narrowly defeating the BMWs of Jorg Muller and Fredrik Ekblom
Muller made a bold start by squeezing between the front row sitting Alfas to grab the lead, but Fabrizio Giovanardi (Alfa) blasted past him on the straight before Les Combes. Contact appeared to be made between the two cars, and Giovanardi slipped back to fifth.
Muller led the opening lap by 0.7secs, with Larini and Ekblom in tow. Giovanardi passed Rickard Rydell's Volvo at the Bus Stop to grab fourth, but ruined that by going off at Pouhon and dropping to sixth.
At the front, Larini outdragged Muller to take the lead at Les Combes on lap four, and the rest of the race was a cat-and-mouse game between the two, with Ekblom holding a watching brief in third.
Despite trying everything he could, Muller just couldn't find a way past and the top three flashed across the line covered by just six-tenths of a second. Rydell did the best he could but finished a distant fourth, ahead of Giovanardi, who spent most of the race catching, and subsequently passing, the Carly-Isert BMW of local hero Pierre-Yves Corthals.
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