Andy Priaulx has picked up his second win of the World Touring Car Championship season after heading a BMW 1-2 in the opening race of the weekend at Okayama.
The race was held in poor conditions after heavy rain hit the Japanese venue prior to the start, with race officials taking the decision to start the race behind the Safety Car due to the fact that all the earlier sessions had been held in the dry.
The field circulated behind the Safety Car for two laps before the action kicked off, with Gabriele Tarquini slowing the field considerably before taking the green flag, although it looked to be a mistake by the Italian when he then ran wide at turn two and was lucky to avoid going off into the barriers.
That mistake allowed Priaulx through into the lead and the former champion made the most of a clear circuit ahead of him to build a lead through the early stages. As the race headed towards its conclusion however, BMW partner Jorg Muller – who had run second to Priaulx throughout – began to close the gap until he was on the tail of the Guernseyman during the penultimate lap.
Despite the best efforts of the German, Priaulx was able to hold on for the win, with Muller appearing to be somewhat dissatisfied at missing out on top spot himself as he settled for second.
Third went to Rob Huff after a strong drive from the Chevrolet man, who had started the race from ninth on the grid. On the first racing lap, the Briton quickly climbed up to fifth place and then battled his way past both Yvan Muller and Jordi Gene as the race wore on, although the BMW pair were too far ahead for the Briton to challenge, although he did briefly run off track while giving chase.
Yvan Muller took fourth having been allowed to move to the position of leading SEAT driver when Gene ceded position, while the Spaniard also allowed Tarquini through to fifth after the Italian was forced to fight back from his lap one error. Finishing just one place behind his title rival, Tarquini now leads Muller by six points in the standings.
Gene ultimately took sixth ahead of Tiago Monteiro, while Augusto Farfus took eighth for BMW – and pole for race two. Farfus had joined Tarquini in taking a trip through the gravel on the first racing lap and then faced a battle to work his way back into the points, eventually taking eighth from Alain Menu's Chevrolet in the closing laps with a somewhat forceful move which saw the Swiss driver forced to run wide across the gravel.
Menu was left just outside the points in ninth place, while Independents' race winner Tom Coronel battled his way past the LADA of James Thompson to complete the top ten.
To view results, CLICK HERE