Rob Huff beat pole sitter Tiago Monteiro off the line. The Chevrolet driver would go on to win, but the ex-F1 racer slashed his advantage late in the race to cross the line less than a second behind.
James Thompson had a strong run in the Alfa Romeo, taking sixth off Jordi Gene on lap nine. He then passed Tom Coronel for fifth on the next lap, the Dutchman spinning off shortly after passing Nicola Larini and Rickard Rydell’s Chevrolet’s in a single brilliant move.
Thompson also put a smart move on Larini and finished the race third, just ahead of a Coronel.
Larini was picked off by a pair of Seats, first Yvan Muller’s diesel, then Gabriele Tarquini who gambled on slick tyres.
Tarquini shot through the field as the track dried, passing team mate Muller within sight of the flag. But he was lucky the race went no further, as the rain began to lash down once again.
Larini slipped back from third to seventh and Alain Menu took eight place off team mate Rydell on the last lap. That means Chevrolet will occupy the first two rows of the grid for the second race later today.
The championship leaders were nowhere, thanks largely to their heavy ballasting. Andy Priaulx finished 11th, Jorg Muller 15th and Augusto Farfus 16th.