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Yvan Muller ahead arriving in Austria

The 2013 World Touring Car Championship arrives in Austria after the opening 8 races which have seen 6 different winners in 4 different makes of car, with Yvan Muller leading the way.

The inaugural WTCC Race of Austria in 2012 saw a number of Front Wheel Drive cars encounter problems with punctures, something which Castrol Honda’s Tiago Monteiro is wary of heading into the 2013 weekend.

Leading the way after the opening four weekends of the season is Yvan Muller in the RML Chevrolet Cruze, having taken 3 wins out of the 8 available – but only one win from the reverse grid races.

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Chasing him hard in the Championship is 2009 Champion Gabriele Tarquini in the #3 Castrol Honda Racing Honda Civic. The Italian took his first win of the season and the first for the JAS Motorsport team in the opening race in Slovakia, leading home a Honda 1-2-3.

While the top two in the Championship pull away, with Muller 46 points ahead of Tarquini, the battle for best of the rest is much more open and it is currently Rob Huff in the Münnich Motorsport SEAT Leon who leads the charge.

Huff, who took his first win of the season and the first for the reigning FIA GT1 World Champions Münnich Motorsport last time out in Hungary, is closely followed by fellow Brits Tom Chilton in the second RML Chevrolet Cruze and James Nash in the bamboo engineering Chevrolet Cruze.

Nash currently tops the Yokohama Independent standings from his team-mate Alex MacDowall while Marrakech race winner Michel Nykjær is currently third in the Nika Racing Cruze.

Top BMW in the Championship is Tom Coronel. The ROAL Motorsport driver took his first win since Suzuka 2011 in Slovakia and is within striking distance of breaking into the Championship top three, as he sits 4 points behind Huff.

A number of other drivers are in the hunt for a top three position – with Pepe Oriola in the Tuenti Racing SEAT Leon having taken a race win on the streets of Marrakech while Norbert Michelisz in the Zengö Motorsport Honda Civic has taken a brace of podium finishes despite his tough start to the campaign. Monteiro has also taken a podium finish as he looks to climb the order.

Another outside bet for a top 3 finish – if results improve – is Huff’s Münnich Motorsport team-mate Marc Basseng. The 2012 FIA GT1 Champion had some strong early season results but has fallen back after Marrakech.

If last year is anything to go by, then the Salzburgring could provide some interesting curveballs as all of the main Championship protagonists suffered punctures in the second race and this could once again provide an opportunity for the BMW drivers’ to claim a race victory.

Stefano D’Aste was the main beneficiary last year as he chose the right way to pass the hobbled Huff – who had got a puncture two corners from home – to claim his maiden victory while Coronel, who had been ahead of the Italian, was blocked by Huff.

LADA are hoping to find form again after a couple of testing weekends. Having shown their potential at Monza and on the streets of Marrakech – James Thompson has a sole point to represent the potential of the Granta.

The Briton could have had more point had it not been for Alexey Dudukalo missing his braking point during qualifying at Monza or Fernando Monje using him as a brake in Marrakech.

Mikhail Kozlovskiy continues to learn the ropes after being drafted in to replace Dudukalo for Marrakech onwards and despite missing Monza; he is ahead of two full season competitors in the standings.

The Salzburgring is fast and technical and if the opening 8 races of the season are anything to go by, then the Austrian circuit is set to give the fans two exciting races, both in the chase for the Championship and the chase for best of the rest.

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