Alain Menu claimed his third victory of the season with a lights-to-flag effort in today's opening World Touring Car Championship race in Porto, while team-mates Yvan Muller and Rob Huff followed him across the line for another Chevrolet 1-2-3.
Menu controlled the field right from the start and never looked under threat. A race-long battle between Muller and Huff for second gave Menu the freedom to pull away at the rate of a couple of tenths per lap, and once he had build a comfortable buffer he simply maintained his advantage. The eventual winning margin was 1.2 seconds.
Like most of the scraps during the race, the battle between Menu and Huff promised much but amounted to little. Whatever slight pace advantage Huff might have had was insufficient for him to mount a challenge, meaning that his hopes of claiming second rested on Muller making a mistake that never came.
The one significant passing move came from local favourite Tiago Monteiro, who managed to get around SUNRED SEAT team-mate Gabriele Tarquini for fourth on the opening lap, and then survived a couple of attempts from the Italian to reclaim the position.
Eighth-placed Norbert Michelisz (Zengo Dension BMW) was first of the Independents; the Hungarian spending much of the race trying unsuccessfully to pass Robert Dahlgren's Volvo.
SUNRED pair Alexsei Dudukalo and Fredy Barth were early casualties of an incident at the first chicane, and the same corner later accounted for former GP2 racer Javier Villa's Proteam BMW.
Results - 11 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Alain Menu Chevrolet 23m22.763s 2. Yvan Muller Chevrolet + 1.262s 3. Rob Huff Chevrolet + 1.519s 4. Tiago Monteiro SUNRED SEAT + 5.710s 5. Gabriele Tarquini SUNRED SEAT + 10.457s 6. Tom Coronel ROAL BMW + 12.237s 7. Robert Dahlgren Polestar Volvo + 16.693s 8. Norbert Michelisz Zengo BMW + 17.256s 9. Michel Nykjaer SUNRED SEAT + 17.724s 10. Stefano D'Aste Proteam BMW + 18.232s 11. Kristian Poulsen Engstler BMW + 18.801s 12. Franz Engstler Engstler BMW + 20.360s 13. Darryl O'Young Chevrolet + 25.778s 14. Mehdi Bennani Proteam BMW + 26.084s 15. Pepe Oriola SUNRED SEAT + 27.343s 16. Yukinori Taniguchi Bamboo Chevrolet + 55.046s Retirements: Javier Villa Proteam BMW 6 laps Fredy Barth SUNRED SEAT 3 laps Aleksei Dudukalo SUNRED SEAT 0 laps