Yvan Muller left the opening World Touring Car Championship round thoroughly downbeat after suffering a nightmare race two in Argentina.

The French driver notched up a second place in race one behind reigning champion Jose Maria Lopez and had briefly held the lead into the first corner before being pushed wide. Both drivers were racing in identical Citroen C-Elysee WTCC cars and Muller said there was no possible way he could overtake the Argentinian driver when the track was so slippery off the racing line.

In race two Muller had a disastrous start on the reversed grid line-up, dropping down through the field. The former WTCC champion was fighting his way back up but collided with Mehdi Bennani midway through the race. The incident damaged the front end of his Citroen, blocking the air intake into the engine and radiator compartment, meaning his engine was seriously overheating in the baking South American conditions.

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As a result, Muller visited last of the classified runners in 12th and lost a huge amount of ground on his main title rivals at such an early stage in the WTCC season.

"I got a really good start in race 1 and was up alongside Pechito [Lopez]," Muller said. "But he managed to maintain his advantage, and from then on the race was over. We've got the same cars - it's impossible to overtake each other in normal circumstances.

"My start in the second race was a disaster. I fell back further over the first few bends. I picked the wrong option every time. As I tried to make my way back up the field, I clipped Mehdi Bennani's car and I'm sorry about that. It certainly wasn't a dream start for me."

The Citroen driver sits fourth in the drivers' championship after round one, level on points with Gabriele Tarquini, and a whopping 26 points behind leader Lopez.

The WTCC series continues next month in Marrakesh, Morocco where the French driver will be desperate to close the points gap.