Jorg Muller picked up the pieces of Rob Huff's tyre problems to record his first World Touring Car win of the season in the first race at Brands Hatch.

A race peppered with various incidents right up to the chequered flag, Huff had led the majority of the way when he suffered a puncture with just two laps remaining. With team-mates Nicola Larini and Alain Menu seemingly suffering similar problems, it is likely to cause serious headaches for the team in the short interval to the second race.

Nonetheless, it was Muller that took advantage, the German avoiding a controversial first lap clash involving pole sitter Augusto Farfus and Alain Menu to come through and take his first victory since Brno last year.

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Following a clean rolling start, attention instead turned to the funnel around Paddock Hill Bend and up to Druids, where Farfus had maintained the lead from fellow front row sitter Menu.

However, Menu's attempts to dive up the inside of Farfus at Druids prompted the Brazilian to come across him and with the Swiss driver already committed to the move, he clattered into the side of the BMW and sent both sideways heading into the right-hander. Further contact followed as Menu struggled to get his Lacetti slowed down in time, forcing both drivers wide.

While Menu was tipped into a half-spin by Andy Priaulx, the recovering Farfus would go just a few metres further when he was spun into the barriers by Larini. Seemingly caused when Menu corrected his slide into Farfus' path, the BMW jinked slightly into Larini, contact that was enough to send him spearing into the barriers.

With Farfus out and Menu delayed, Huff had simply dipped underneath his feuding rivals to snatch the lead, with Muller assuming close company in second.

Indeed, by the end of the first lap, the top two commanded a significant lead over Yvan Muller, the Frenchman staying out of trouble to lead a train of Priaulx, Menu, Alex Zanardi and Larini.

Huff remained comfortably ahead of Muller for almost the remainder of the race, the Lacetti commanding a stable one second advantage over the German. However, it was soon apparent that all was not entirely well with the Chevrolet when it began to slow down Hawthorne Hill on lap 12 of 14. When he went straight on at Hawthorne Bend, it was evident that a puncture was to deny him a fairytale victory in his 100th touring car race.

Significantly, Larini was also in the pits a lap earlier with an identical problem, while Menu seemed to be slowing rapidly in the third Chevrolet.

All this action was enough to shuffle the order around in the final few laps, with Muller, most significantly, snatching the lead and romping home a clear seven second winner over the chasing pack.

New championship leader Yvan Muller held onto a superb second place, the Frenchman defying his maximum 70kg of success ballast to keep Priaulx behind him from lights to chequered flag. Indeed, Priaulx tried everything to pass the SEAT, but Muller did not put a single wheel wrong.

Zanardi was also a big winner, crossing the line fourth in what is only his third points finish of the season, while Tom Coronel finished in a fine fifth in the petrol-powered Leon.

Porteiro made it a good race for BMW to finish in sixth, an impressive effort having started down in 15th position, while a bit of manoeuvring on the line helped Gabriele Tarquini up to seventh at the expense of Jordi Gene. Sadly for the Spaniard, he couldn't quite get Menu on the line, the Swiss driver nursing his car home to score a point and secure pole position for the second race.

Elsewhere, James Thompson finished tenth, although there was disappointment for the Volvo C30 of Robert Dahlgren after it was pushed into the gravel trap by Rickard Rydell whilst running in 13th.

In the Independents Trophy, Stefan D'Aste snatched victory away from team-mate Sergio Hernandez after passing him on the final lap, while Pierre-Yves Corthals crossed the line in third.