Alex Zanardi repeated his success of twelve months ago to pick up his first World Touring Car Championship victory of the season in the opening race of the weekend at Brno.
The Italian had started from third on the grid, but saw his chances of victory increase when Augusto Farfus triggered an accident at turn one which took a number of front-runners out of contention.
From pole, the Brazilian suddenly moved across on Andy Priaulx heading into turn one and the contact between the two BMWs saw Farfus spin into Nicola Larini, with Rob Huff, Alain Menu and Jordi Gene all going off into the gravel. Farfus, Larini and Menu were out on the spot while Menu, Priaulx and Gene made it back to the pits but would all fail to finish. Despite the extensive damage to his car, Priaulx was able to eventually rejoin and posted the quickest lap.
The melee at turn one saw notable gains in the pack behind, but it was Gabriele Tarquini who held the lead behind the Safety Car, having only just avoided being wiped out by the turn one accident. Zanardi held second ahead of Yvan Muller and Tiago Monteiro, with Rickard and Sergio Hernandez completing the top six.
Zanardi made light work of getting ahead of Tarquini at the restart and soon started to pull away, while fellow BMW driver Jorg Muller was a man on a mission further down the field. Having broken into the points on the lap after the restart, the German climbed up to fifth before a mistake at the final corner saw him lose positions. However, he then battled back through the pack a second time to secure second place having closed on Zanardi in the final laps.
Tarquini led the SEAT challenge in third ahead of Rydell, while Hernandez was unable to follow Muller past the diesels and had to settle for fifth. Monteiro ended up sixth ahead of leading Independent runner Felix Porteiro, while Yvan Muller struggled for pace as the race wore on and could only manage eighth – the silver lining being pole for the second race of the weekend.