Yvan Muller has started his defence of the World Touring Car Championship title with a win after a straightforward lights-to-flag success in the opening race of the year at Curitiba.
Having qualified on pole position, Muller successfully held his lead at the rolling start and never came under significant pressure from behind despite a mid-race Safety Car period that closed the field up behind.
Off the start, four of the five SEATs were able to maintain their position at the front with Tiago Monteiro dripping back behind Augusto Farfus on the run into turn one. As usual at the Brazilian circuit, a number of drivers ran wide through turn one and went over the grass but into turn three, Jorg Muller tagged Andy Priaulx and went into a spin that also saw Alain Menu go off. While Priaulx continued, Menu returned to the pits to retire in his first race with the Chevrolet Cruze, while Muller endured a lengthy pit-stop before returning to the track five laps down.
At the front, the placings remained static with Muller leading Jordi Gene, Rickard Rydell and Gabriele Tarquini, although Tarquini was doing all he could to find a way ahead of Rydell – albeit without success. Further back, Farfus held fifth from Monteiro, Nicola Larini and Sergio Hernandez.
On lap five, the race went behind the Safety Car when Stefano D'Aste went off into the wall in the infield and at the same time, Rob Huff was also forced to retire when his Chevrolet lost drive out of the final corner.
On the restart on lap ten, Farfus was slow away and both Monteiro and Larini were able find a way past and the positions looked like remaining static in the top eight until Larini found a way past Monteiro for fifth on lap 14; the race having been extended to 16 laps due to the caution period.
Monteiro then ran wide coming out of the final corner and lost places to Farfus and Hernandez but the fact the Portuguese racer took eighth means he will start race two from pole.
Out front however, Muller wrapped up the win from Gene while Rydell held off Tarquini to secure the final slot on the podium with Larini in a solid fifth on the debut for the Cruze.
Outside the points, Priaulx battled back to ninth place in his battle-scarred BMW while the top ten was completed by Independent winner Felix Porteiro.
The Proteam took Indy honours ahead of Tom Coronel and Tom Boardman, while Franz Engstler was fourth and George Tanev fifth. Marin Colak and Kristian Poulsen crashed out while fighting for position with a couple of laps remaining.
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