Alain Menu took a lights to flag victory during the opening race from Shanghai while Rob Huff moved into the lead of the Championship after Yvan Muller retired with damage.
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At the start, Menu got a clean start and Huff moved into second while Norbert Michelisz and Yvan Muller had contact and that sent the French driver sideways and further around the lap, the Frenchman had slowed with broken right rear suspension.
The incident saw Michelisz given a drive through penalty for the contact and this dropped the Hungarian down the order and out of the points for both the main Championship and the Yokohama Independents’ classification.
Having survived the opening corners, Stefano D’Aste was up into third in the Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC but the Italian was unable to keep up with the leading Chevrolets.
Tom Coronel from 10th on the grid finished fourth, while Gabriele Tarquini finished as the top SEAT driver in fifth after starting from ninth on the grid.
Tom Boardman brought home the Special Tuning Racing SEAT Leon sixth from 20th on the grid, having avoided all of the opening lap contact.
Backing up the double top ten finish in Japan with seventh position was Tiago Monteiro in the Honda Civic, who had lined up 17th on the grid. Monteiro almost lost seventh to Colin Turkington at the chequered flag; the WSR Chevrolet Cruze driver had to fight his way back up from 20th after he was caught up in the opening corner mêlée.
The top ten was completed by Alberto Cerqui and Fredy Barth, the Swiss driver making his return to the WTCC in the #73 SEAT Leon.
Heading into the second race from Shanghai, Huff has moved into a 16 point Championship lead over Muller with Menu a further 12 points back in third. Stefano D’Aste has closed up the points in the Yokohama Independents’ after Michelisz and Oriola failed to score. The Italian is 25 points behind Michelisz heading into the second race.
Mehdi Bennani finished just outside of the points in 11th, the Moroccan driver having earlier been turned around by Pepe Oriola when he moved across on the Spaniard. Oriola failed to finish the race, retiring to the pits half way through the race.
Race 2 takes place at 0805 GMT (0905 CET).