At the start the Chevrolets easily maintained their advantage over Luca Rangoni who moved up to third. A tense, five car battle for sixth developed between Roberto Colciago, Jordi Gene, Rob Huff, Gabriele Tarquini and Andy Priaulx. Priaulx put a smart move on Tarquini to take ninth and started pressuring Huff for eighth – which would also give pole position for race two.
Augusto Farfus Jnr was carrying his 35kg weight penalty better than Priaulx and took fourth from Tiago Monteiro, on his debut for Seat. But the Portuguese shortly got back ahead of the Brazilian.
They Seats were struggling as the race developed and Huff picked off Gene for seventh. Priaulx also moved past Gene on the next lap to take eighth and Tarquini got through as well.
But a bizarre incident a few corners later saw Huff spear straight on into the barrier at Hunzerud. Priaulx had a wild moment of oversteer avoiding the Chevrolet and Tarquini dived past the pair of them into seventh. With Huff’s car half on the circuit the safety car was scrambled and the Chevrolets’ lead obliterated.
The restart was impeccable and the race calmed down in the final laps with no major changes of position. Menu won from Larini with the independent Rangoni an excellent third. Monteiro finished fourth on his WTCC debut ahead of Farfus, who moves into the lead of the championship.
Colciago and Tarquini were sixth and seventh and Priaulx claimed the final point for eighth – and pole position for the second race later today. Jorg Muller – a winner last time out at Curitiba – failed to score.