Yvan Muller has claimed the World Touring Car Championship's first Russian victory after race one at the Moscow raceway, despite a 20-minute delay to proceedings restart due to a recovery vehicle becoming stuck on the exit of turn one – ironically, with an apparent mechanical failure after attempting to clear wreckage from a first corner collision.
The RML Chevrolet driver's run to the line wasn't easy and he was always kept under intense pressure from 'Flying Dutchman' Tom Coronel in his ROAL Motorsport BMW. Ultimately Coronel was unable to find a way through down the long back straight as Muller defended firmly but fairly in the tight and twisty corners.
Norbert Michelisz had a positive run to third in his Zengo Motorsport Honda Civic, keeping Rob Huff at bay so that the Brit had to settle for a fighting fourth with heavy points in the bag as top SEAT.
James Thompson secured LADA's best ever WTCC result with fifth for the Granta Sport team, no doubt making the Russian fans very happy after what has so far been a very mixed first half of this season. He held off Honda's Gabriele Tarquini who claimed sixth, who was in turn busy fending off a late challenge from Independent winner Michel Nykjaer in his NIKA Racing Chevrolet.
Pepe Oriola had an invisible but productive run to finish eighth ahead of a duo of Chevrolets, James Nash eventually beating Tom Chilton for ninth place. Behind Chilton in tenth, Stefano d'Aste and Mehdi Bennani looked very competitive in their BMWs but nonetheless missed out on the last of the points on offer to end up 11th and 12th respectively.
Honda Tiago Monteiro fought his way from the back of the field to a respectful and certainly not unlucky 13th with Marc Basseng failing to make much progress behind in his Munnich Motorsport SEAT coming home in 14th. Similarly moribund, Alex MacDowall also didn't make any clearway on his dreadful qualifying and ended up 15th.
Russian LADA driver Mikhail Kozlovskiy failed to make his target of scoring points and instead had to make do with 16th, but at least he succeeded in shielding his position from Campos SUNRED's Fernando Monje and the perennial backmarker Rene Munnich who was the last car on the lead lap at the end of the 15-lap race.
Franz Engstler was classified two laps down after technical issues saw him dash for the pits, while Daryll O'Young and Nikolay Karamyshev were part of the first corner melee. They made it back to the pit lane for repairs and got back out for the restart, but for all their labours they ended up 3 laps down on the leaders by the finish.
The principal players in that first corner collision, Freddy Barth and Charles Ng, did not participate in the restart. Barth was suffering from an injured wrist from the impact and was ruled out of race two as well, while Charles Ng's BMW was so badly damaged that not only was it a scramble to get it ready for race 2 but the repairs contravened parc fermé regulations which meant that Ng also lost his prospective front row position on the reversed grid.
by Dexter Fielding