Spa WTCC: Yvan Muller takes comfortable win in race one

Yvan Muller scored a comfortable fourth World Touring Car Championship victory of the season on the series' return to Spa-Francorchamps for the first time since 2005

Spa WTCC: Yvan Muller takes comfortable win in race one

The reigning WTCC champion's success was assisted by an intense intra-team fight in his mirrors between Citroen team-mates Sebastien Loeb and championship leader Jose Maria Lopez.

Loeb was forced to make repeated moves to cover his inside line from Lopez's advances into the Les Combes chicane. The triple TC2000 champion left it until the last lap before committing himself to a bold manoeuvre around World Rally Championship legend Loeb's outside.

Loeb appeared to cooperate and give his stable-mate racing room by mounting Les Combes' inside kerbs, allowing Lopez to complete the pass without contact.

The intense battle allowed Muller to secure a 3.6s margin of victory, and the Alsace driver reduced his deficit to Lopez in the standings by seven points, having started the race some 39 points adrift.

The Citroen men displayed arguably their most pronounced domination of the season. Muller finished a commanding 21s ahead of Hungaroring victor Gianni Morbidelli.

Morbidelli had qualified a lowly ninth, but took advantage of confusion on the run from Eau Rouge to Les Combes on the opening lap to gain four places.

The drama was precipitated when fourth-place starter Hugo Valente ran wheel-to-wheel with Gabriele Tarquini into Eau Rouge. Tarquini was presented with little option other than to lift, and the chasing pack fanned across the road in search of racing room as the C-Elysees and Valente staged a break.

Morbidelli emerged from chaos at Les Combes holding fifth place, narrowly ahead of the grid-penalised Tiago Monteiro, who was up from 10th.

Valente circulated alone in fourth place until being called in to serve a drive-through penalty on lap five for track limits infringements. Proteam Honda racer Mehdi Bennani received a similar punishment from race officials.

Monteiro mounted a last-lap attack on Morbidelli for fourth into the Bus Stop. The late-braking may have compromised the former grand prix driver's exit as Tom Coronel took advantage to steal fifth by 0.073s on the run to the line.

Lada racer Rob Huff, who has also been participating in this weekend's Nurburgring 24 Hours, suffered a first lap trip through the gravel on the exit of Les Combes but recovered to finish 16th.

Pos Driver Team Car Laps Time/Gap
1 Yvan Muller Citroen Total WTCC Citroen 9 22m09.364s
2 Jose Maria Lopez Citroen Total WTCC Citroen 9 3.689s
3 Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WTCC Citroen 9 4.318s
4 Gianni Morbidelli All-Inkl.com Munnich Motorsport Chevrolet 9 21.125s
5 Tom Coronel ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet 9 21.998s
6 Tiago Monteiro Castrol Honda WTC Team Honda 9 22.071s
7 Norbert Michelisz Zengo Motorsport Honda 9 23.517s
8 Gabriele Tarquini Castrol Honda WTC Team Honda 9 24.350s
9 Dusan Borkovic NIS Petrol by Campos Racing Chevrolet 9 30.094s
10 Tom Chilton ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet 9 30.940s
11 Ma Qinghua Citroen Total WTCC Citroen 9 31.821s
12 Hugo Valente Campos Racing Chevrolet 9 39.719s
13 Mehdi Bennani Proteam Racing Honda 9 45.992s
14 Mikhail Kozlovskiy LADA Sport Lukoil Lada 9 47.654s
15 Rene Munnich All-Inkl.com Munnich Motorsport Chevrolet 9 48.196s
16 Rob Huff LADA Sport Lukoil Lada 9 57.311s
17 James Thompson LADA Sport Lukoil Lada 9 1m09.895s
18 Franz Engstler Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW 9 1m28.674s
19 John Filippi Campos Racing SEAT 9 1m42.573s
20 Norbert Nagy Campos Racing SEAT 9 1m43.916s
21 Pasquale Di Sabatino Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW 8 1 Lap
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