Vila Real WTCR winner Yvan Muller credited the "best worst start" of his career for his avoidance of the huge crash that delayed the race by over two hours.
Muller qualified his Hyundai i30 N sixth for Saturday's first race, but plummeted down the order with a dreadful getaway.
That meant he avoided an enormous opening-lap shunt triggered by polesitter Rob Huff and his Sebastien Loeb Racing team-mate Mehdi Bennani colliding, which eliminated the five cars that had started ahead of Muller - including team-mate Thed Bjork.
Muller then started from the head of the pack when the race resumed more than two hours later, and beat Esteban Guerrieri to claim his second victory of the season.
"I did my best worst start of my career," said Muller. "I missed my start and that was a big [bit of] luck for me because I was not in the pack.
"Fortunately I only have one car to repair tonight instead of two, but Thed's car is quite damaged. The boys have started to work on it. I believe they will spend all night on it, but I'm sure they will do it."
Asked to explain his start, Muller told Autosport: "We looked at the data but we don't understand why [it was poor], because I did everything - the procedure - like it should have been.
"I don't know what happened - I just broke down. Maybe there was more grip than I expected and didn't take any wheelspin, the car [stuttered]."
Victory moved Muller back to the head of the drivers' standings, after erstwhile leader and nephew Yann Ehrlacher was one of those who could not restart.
Muller said he felt "sorry for Yann particularly", but added he thought he was due a better result after a point-less visit to Zandvoort last month.
"I think I was unlucky at Zandvoort [Muller was involved in a race one shunt with Norbert Michelisz then failed to score points in either the second or third races], but I am lucky here," he said. "The luck over the season is an average."