Yvan Muller made a trademark lightening getaway and left the rest of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship field behind him in the first of three races at Mondello Park.
Muller made the most of his pole position to disappear off hand over fist in the early laps of the fourteen lap battle, whilst team-mate Colin Turkington
struggled for pace at his home circuit.
Turkington held up the pursuing field until he was passed first by Jason Plato's SEAT and then Matt Neal's Honda. The VX Racing driver was very lucky to hold his eventual fourth place finish from a very pacey and aggressive Rob Collard
in the MG.
Whilst Muller's race was uneventful, Jason Plato's second place was hard-earned as he had to hold off Matt Neal
for the final laps, the former champ placing his Toledo immaculately to ensure the Team Halfords car could not pass.
Elsewhere there was plenty of movement through the field, and event finishes from the full complement of cars that started, a record for this season of sixteen.
Dan Eaves kept his nose clean and worked forwards to a sixth place finish. Behind him was the Astra of Gavin Smith, still not displaying pace near enough to his team-mates, but involving himself in an incident with James Pickford's SEAT on the first lap which saw Pickford fly off the circuit and return in dead last.
Pickford would eventually finish the race in eleventh place, with the white and green MG of Jason Hughes
ahead of him. It was Hughes first BTCC race of 2005, and the Kartworld circuit owner certainly has lost none of his touch around Mondello where last season he did battle with Yvan Muller. Should Hughes finish in tenth in race two, the final race of the day with its reverse grid should be interesting…
Ahead of Hughes in the finishing order was James Kaye in eighth and Tom Chilton
in ninth. Chilton had started in seventh and worked his way back whilst Kaye had worked his ways forwards from twelfth cleanly and impressively.
Luke Hines ended up as the final finishing SEAT after a poor start dropped him down the order, and the karting star with the wild hair was unable to offer the greatest amount of resistance to those trying to get their way past. It was insult to injury later on in the race as Hine had to pit to get his door taped shut, and then couldn't find a way past the Astra of Fiona Leggate in only her fourth touring car race until the Bio-ethanol racer let Hines past.
Leggate took thirteenth, and even displayed a bit of sideways action for the crowds, whilst Mark Proctor came home ahead of both of the Lexus in a race which saw all starters in the biggest BTCC field of 2005, finish the race.Top ten
1. Yvan Muller
2. Jason Plato
3. Matt Neal
4. Colin Turkington
5. Rob Collard
6. Dan Eaves
7. Gavin Smith
8. James Kaye
9. Tom Chilton
10. Jason Hughes