Yvan Muller won the first race of the day at Portimão for Chevrolet, passing Gabriele Tarquini at the start and maintaining a gap to take his sixth win of the season, with points rival Rob Huff finishing third.
At the rolling start, Muller overtook Tarquini’s SEAT León around the outside into the first corner and held no more than a two second lead over the Italian for the rest of the race. Drivers were backing off nearer the end of the race however, with the lap times up to three seconds they were early on in the race.
Rob Huff passed Norbert Michelisz at the start for third and held on to take the final spot on the podium, limiting the damage from Muller’s win which sees the Frenchman extend his points lead by 10 points over Huff.
Aleksei Dudukalo lost positions on the first lap after contact with Alain Menu’s Chevrolet. Later on the lap at Turn 11, the Russian driver went wide and rejoined the circuit abruptly, colliding with Gábor Wéber’s BMW. The two drivers were stuck in the gravel trap and were recovered to the pits for repairs.
The two incidents, first between Menu and Dudukalo, and the second between Dudukalo and Wéber are under investigation by the stewards.
Alain Menu began to move up the order after two cautious opening laps, passing Alberto Cerqui’s ROAL BMW, Tiago Monteiro’s SR León and then finally Tom Coronel’s BMW on the straight to secure fifth position for the ‘Vaillante’ team.
Alex MacDowall’s independent Chevrolet was battling Tiago Monteiro early on, sending the Portuguese driver into a slide on lap five but Monteiro was able to hold it and then held off heavy pressure from Alberto Cerqui’s rapid BMW in the later stages of the race to keep seventh, whilst MacDowall slipped to tenth after Cerqui was able to slip by at Turn 11 with Pepe Oriola sneaking by in his SUNRED SEAT as well.
James Nash’s Ford retired with damage from contact whilst running in 17th, whilst James Thompson also retired from the race on the penultimate lap after running as high as 12th position.
Race two gets underway at 15:35 CET.