The world’s top touring car racers put in an impressively disciplined show on the narrow Pau streets – making for a processional race.
Olivier Tielemans was nerfed into the barrier by Tom Coronel on the first lap – but otherwise the rolling start was highly disciplined. Yvan Muller set off in pursuit of Alain Menu, the leaders stretching ahead third placed Tiago Monteiro. Nicola Larini, Rob Huff, Felix Porteiro, Andy Priaulx and Jordi Gene queued up behind Monteiro.
Augusto Farfus had gained fourplaces at the start to run ninth. The Brazilian was pushing Gene hard for eighth place – and the crucial point and pole position for the second race that came with it.
By lap three even Muller was starting to fall back from Menu, the Chevrolet driver extending his advantage to over one second.
Jorg Muller – joint championship leader with Priaulx going into this round – was struggling down in the pack behind Michel Jourdain. While Muller tried to pass Jourdain at the hairpin Antony Beltoise clipped the back of the BMW and fell into the clutches of Stefano D’Aste.
By half race distance Menu had the win bought and paid for – with Yvan Muller an equally comfortable second. But there were still three battling pairs of drivers in the points: team mates Larini and Huff disputing fourth, Porteiro and Priaulx scrapping for sixth, and Farfus nearly clambering over the top of Gene’s Seat.
Short of pushing their rivals out of the way, it was hard to see any of the drivers making a successful pass around the tight Pau streets. But Huff didn’t need to touch Larini to take fourth – the Italian took himself out of the race, damaging his suspension.
Even though he had pole for race two Farfus continued to pressure Gene and took seventh place from him when the Seat ran wide. Priaulx must have been hoping Porteiro would do the same – but the Spaniard wouldn’t budge.
Freed of his Gene problem Farfus savaged the gap to Porteiro and Priaulx but there was not time for the order to change.
It was the final act of a tight but not exactly thrilling race. Menu cruised home to an untroubled win, adding to the one he scored at Zandvoort.
Related links: WTCC Zandvoort 1: Chevrolet one-two