Yvan Muller took victory in the first FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) race on the streets of Vila Real, which had to be restarted more than two hours late due to a huge pile-up at the first start.
The first start saw original front-row drivers Rob Huff and Mehdi Bennani come together at Turn 3, crashing their Volkswagen Golf GTi cars heavily into the barriers in front of the pursuing pack.
With all 27 cars involved in the original pile-up, more than two hours passed as the carnage was cleared and barrier repairs took place.
The race restarted on lap two under the safety car, with two laps at slow speed before the action commenced on lap four.
There Muller, who was the leading driver to have a car worthy of the restart, assumed a commanding lead and was not headed, with his nearest challenger in Guerrieri also taking the mandatory joker lap on the same tour.
“It was a long race between the start and the end of the race,” said Muller. “OK it’s a victory, I take the points of course, but it’s not a big victory. That one or race two is not a big victory.
“But I take it – I want to think of Bennani and Rob. Rob was the fastest in qualifying and he would probably win this race, so he was the fastest today.”
Campos Racing’s Pepe Oriola claimed third after getting past BRC Racing’s Gabriele Tarquini on the final lap, with the latter suffering from a front-left puncture that lost him the final podium position.
Jean-Karl Vernay was the leading Audi driver in fifth, ahead of DG Sport’s Aurélien Comte in sixth, who got past the Honda of Benjamin Lessennes on the penultimate lap in one of the only genuine passes of the race.
Comtoyou Racing’s Nathanaël Berthon was eighth, heading up an Audi trio that consisted of Leopard Lukoil’s Gordon Shedden and Comtoyou team-mate Frédéric Vervisch.
The other two Comtoyou cars of Aurélien Panis and Denis Dupont both experienced technical issues during the race and stopped on the circuit, dropping them out of the lower echelons of the top ten.
Team Mulsanne’s Fabrizio Giovanardi was the only Alfa Romeo driver to take the start and finished in 11th, although he was under investigation for cutting across the joker lap exit line and is likely to be penalised as a result.
Victory for Muller moves the four-time WTCC champion to 18 points clear of nephew Ehrlacher at the top of the standings.
Qualifying for races two and three takes place at 09:00 BST (10:00 CEST) on Sunday, although a number of cars are likely to be too heavily damaged to take any further part in the weekend.
|1||48||Yvan MULLER||YMR||Hyundai i30 N TCR||13||13 LAPS||2:03.377||1|
|2||86||Esteban GUERRIERI||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR||13||2.060||2:03.627||2|
|3||74||Pepe ORIOLA||Team Oscaro by Campos Racing||CUPRA TCR||13||10.596||2:04.319||5|
|4||30||Gabriele TARQUINI||BRC Racing Team||Hyundai i30 N TCR||13||12.925||2:03.079||3|
|5||69||Jean-Karl VERNAY||Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team||Audi RS3 LMS||13||13.926||2:04.498||4|
|6||7||Aurélien COMTE||DG Sport Compétition||Peugeot 308 TCR||13||14.186||2:04.536||7|
|7||63||Benjamin LESSENNES||Boutsen Ginion Racing||Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR||13||16.696||2:04.575||6|
|8||23||Nathanaël BERTHON||Comtoyou Racing||Audi RS3 LMS||13||19.937||2:04.621||9|
|9||52||Gordon SHEDDEN||Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team||Audi RS3 LMS||13||20.169||2:04.989||10|
|10||22||Frédéric VERVISCH||Audi Sport Team Comtoyou||Audi RS3 LMS||13||20.678||2:04.684||11|
|11||88||Fabrizio GIOVANARDI||Team Mulsanne||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||13||21.728||2:04.513||14|
|12||70||Mat’o HOMOLA||DG Sport Compétition||Peugeot 308 TCR||13||22.668||2:04.352||17|
|13||13||Edgar FLORINDO||Veloso Motorsport||CUPRA TCR||13||50.040||2:05.109||20|
|14||8||Norbert NAGY||Zengő Motorsport||CUPRA TCR||13||50.451||2:05.598||19|
|15||66||Zsolt Dávid SZABÓ||Zengő Motorsport||CUPRA TCR||13||1:05.510||2:08.477||18|
|R||21||Aurélien PANIS||Comtoyou Racing||Audi RS3 LMS||10||DNF||2:04.224||12|
|R||20||Denis DUPONT||Comtoyou Racing||Audi RS3 LMS||8||DNF||2:06.456||13|
|R||26||José RODRIGUES||Target Competition||Honda Civic Type R FK2 TCR||7||DNF||2:05.898||15|
|R||9||Tom CORONEL||Boutsen Ginion Racing||Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR||5||DNF||2:06.507||8|
|NS||10||Gianni MORBIDELLI||Team Mulsanne||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||–||DNS||N/A||16|
|NS||5||Norbert MICHELISZ||BRC Racing Team||Hyundai i30 N TCR||–||DNS||N/A||–|
|NS||12||Rob HUFF||Sébastien Loeb Racing||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||–||DNS||N/A||–|
|NS||25||Mehdi BENNANI||Sébastien Loeb Racing||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||–||DNS||N/A||–|
|NS||68||Yann EHRLACHER||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR||–||DNS||N/A||–|
|NS||11||Thed BJÖRK||YMR||Hyundai i30 N TCR||–||DNS||N/A||–|
|NS||27||John FILIPPI||Team Oscaro by Campos Racing||CUPRA TCR||–||DNS||N/A||–|
|NS||15||James THOMPSON||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR||–||DNS||N/A||–|