Yvan Muller has taken victory in the opening round of the 2013 World Touring Car Championship at Monza, heading home an RML 1-2 with Tom Chilton in second and bamboo engineering’s Alex MacDowall third.
The result marks the first-ever WTCC podium finishes for Brits Chilton and MacDowall, who ensured that despite Chevrolet pulling their works teams the marque’s cars still finished 1-2-3.
Due to the extremely wet conditions, it was decided to start the race behind the safety car. This spread the pack out approaching the first chicane on lap two and there were no significant incidents as a result.
Although the top three finished the race as they had started it, further back there was more significant change. Fourth was Honda’s Gabriele Tarquini, who made his way up from ninth on the grid due to his 5-place penalty. Tiago Monteiro ensured that it was a strong start to Honda’s World Touring Car campaign by finishing in fifth.
Perhaps the drive of the race went to Münnich Motorsport’s reigning champion Rob Huff, who made his way up from 22nd on the grid to finish in sixth. Indeed Huff was up to 9th by lap 8 and enjoyed several laps battling hard with Special Tuning Racing’s tom Boardman.
Boardman had looked likely to score points until contact with James Nash on the penultimate lap broke his suspension. The Brit stopped on the circuit, causing the final lap of the race to run under yellow flags in the second sector.
Nash himself finished in seventh, ahead of Zengő Motorsport’s Norbert Michelisz, who had started from 19th.
Tom Coronel and Fredy barth completed the top ten, although Barth’s race was not without incident as the Swiss made contact with ROAL’s Darryl O’Young on lap nine, dropping the Hong Kong driver to 14th.
Marc Basseng had spent the majority of the race inside the top ten. However the German Münnich Motorsport driver received a drive-through penalty for not having all four wheels on the grid at the 3-minute warning, leaving him only able to finish in 14th.
Failing to finish the race were Tom Boardman wirh broken suspension, Franz Engstler, Michel Nykjaer with driveshaft problems, Pepe Oriola and Stefano D’Aste, who crashed out on lap four causing a brief safety car period.
The second WTCC race takes place at 17:20 CET (16:20 GMT).