Alain Menu rebounded from the disappointment of being demoted to the back of the grid in Valencia to secure his first win of the World Touring Car Championship season.
The Chevrolet ace, who won more races than anyone else last season at the wheel of his Lacetti, posted the third fastest time during qualifying before his car failed the ride height test after the session. It meant the Swiss star was demoted to 23rd on the grid – ahead of only the drivers who had failed to qualify inside the qualification maxima during the session.
From the back of the grid however, Menu came through the field and following heated battles with both Alex Zanardi and James Thompson, he took the flag in eighth place – giving him pole position for the second race through the reverse grid rules.
Having lost out to the fast-starting BMW of Andy Priaulx when the lights went out, Menu worked hard to get back past the defending champion and having reclaimed the lead on lap two, he went on to take his first win of the year.
"I had a good first race and managed to profit from the many incidents ahead of me," he said. "The whole race some of the driving of the others was really on the limit and on a few occasions I nearly went off.
"I was lucky when Thompson closed the door on me but it was a little bit too late: I was through. I then passed Zanardi for eighth on the straight but he just pushed me onto the grass, nearly causing me to spin at to speed. I think this time he really exaggerated in his manoeuvres as this was extremely dangerous at the speed we were doing. But I did get by him a few corners later, which put me on pole position for race two.
"In the second race I knew I'd get passed by Andy at the start, but after the first lap I slowly started to reel him in to the point where I could pass him on lap two. From then on it was just a matter of keeping the car on the black stuff."