Rob Huff has secured his – and Chevrolet's – first win of the World Touring Car Championship season after storming to victory in the opening race of the weekend at Valencia.
Huff launched a storming assault in the early stages of the race to climb from fourth on the grid to the lead of the race within five laps as he made his way ahead of Yvan Muller, Gabriele Tarquini and Jordi Gene in the opening laps before extending his advantage to over five seconds at the finish.
Tarquini and Gene completed the podium - which propelled the Italian back into the championship lead - while Yvan Muller had to fight for saving his fourth position under great pressure from Jorg Müller, Nicola Larini and Andy Priaulx.
Gene took a better start and led into turn one, from Tarquini and fellow SEAT driver Muller. BMW driverAugusto Farfus meanwhile went wide after a clash with Priaulx. The first lap-battle involved a few drivers: Porteiro, Hernández and Okyay pitted for repairs and rejoined, while Corthals and van Lagen retired.
On lap four Gene went wide in one corner and slipped to third behind Tarquini and Huff. A few moments later D'Aste overtook Tielemans for the Independents' Trophy lead; Engstler tried to do the same but clashed with Tielemans and spun off.
On lap five Huff moved took the lead and the top five started to break away as Thompson, who was lying in sixth, was blocking a train of cars led by Priaulx. Farfus, who was chasing the world champion, spun off at turn one and was collected by Rydell.
As Huff increased his pace, Priaulx and Zanardi were able to get past Thompson when the Honda driver went and on lap nine, Larini stole fifth position from Jorg Muller, but in the final stages of the race the German retook it for good.
During the last lap Zanardi and Menu fought hard for the eighth position and the pole on the reverse grid for race two but eventually the Swiss driver had the better of his rival who outbraked himself at turn one and went wide.
D'Aste won the Indepedents' race from Tielemans and Romanov.