Muller took pole yesterday after the early retirement of world champion Rob Huff, and dominated on race day to win both of the main attractions.
“It was not easy to come through from tenth on the grid because you couldn’t even see the lights on the car in front," Muller said.
"It was very tricky to brake at the good points and at one point I braked about five hundred metres before the corner because I didn’t know where I was. It was the same for everyone, but they were very difficult conditions.
"I was very focused, not on the victory, but to finish in the top five. Step by step I didn’t make any mistake and that’s what helped me to overtake other cars when they made small mistakes.”
Michel Nykjaer – who came second, as well as first in the Yokohama Trophy, said: “The conditions were very hard today and I got all I could out of the races.
"We had a broken driveshaft and we fixed that and now we are P2, so we are all very happy. Both Basseng and Tarquini were hard to overtake but it’s always good to overtake Gabriele because he is my friend, like Yvan.
“MacDowall and Nash and the other guys will all be strong this year because they all have the same car as me. I’m looking for a top five position overall but we know it will be difficult.”
RACE 1 – MULLER LEADS RML 1-2
Yvan Muller completed a lights-to-flag domination of the first race of the 2013 FIA World Touring Car Championship season to record RML’s first victory as a non-Manufacturer Chevrolet team.
Tom Chilton made it a 1-2 for the team while Alex MacDowall completed an all-Chevrolet podium in the bamboo-engineering Cruze and so took maximum Yokohama Trophy points.
Behind the three, Gabriele Tarquini and Tiago Monterio gave the new Castrol Honda WTCC team plenty to cheer about by bringing their two Civic cars home in fourth and fifth places respectively.
Heavy rain at Monza meant the race started behind the safety car, with Muller, Chilton and MacDowall running in a Chevrolet 1-2-3 throughout the race at the head of the field.
An incident on lap four that saw Stefano D’Aste’s BMW collide with the barriers briefly saw the re-appearance of the safety car, while contact between the Chevrolet of James Nash and the SEAT of Tom Boardman on the penultimate lap saw the León parked up with broken suspension and so the last lap was completed under yellow flags in that sector.
One of the drives of the race came from Robert Huff. A similar incident in Qualifying to that which befell Boardman meant the reigning World Champion had to start from the back of the grid, but he steadily carved his way through the field to end up in sixth place behind the two Honda cars and so salvaged some points from the race.
Lap 2 – Nykjaer used the escape road at Turn 1, then came into the pits. Basseng, Tarquini and D’Aste all passed O’Young. Huff was up into 17th place.
Lap 3 – Engstler used the T1 escape road. Barth spun at the Ascari chicane. Huff was up to 15th.
Lap 4 – Huff used the escape road at T1. Tarquini passed Basseng for 6th. Monteiro passed O’Young for 9th. Coronel cut T4. D’Aste hit the barriers at Ascari. Contact between Tarquini and Basseng. Huff was up to 12th.
Lap 5 – Tarquini out-braked himself going into the T1 chicane and there was contact with Basseng. Huff was up to 11th. Safety car deployed.
Lap 7 – Tarquini passed Nash for 5th. Huff was up to 9th.
Lap 8 – Tarquini passed Oriola for 4th. Basseng went into the gravel at Lesmo 2. Monteiro passed Nash for 6th. Engstler came into the pits.
Lap 9 – Huff and Oriola used the escape road at T1. Oriola pulled up. O’Young went into the gravel at Lesmo 2. Basseng was given a drive-through penalty. Huff was up to 7th.
Lap 10 – Huff passed Nash for 6th. Bennani went off.
Lap 11 – Nash cut Turn 1 after apparent contact with Boardman. Further contact between Nash and Boardman saw Boardman pull up with broken front suspension.
RACE 2 – MULLER ENCORES FROM NYKJÆR
Yvan Muller gave the RML team the perfect start to the 2013 WTCC season when he took his second victory of the afternoon.
A thrilling 10-lap race saw the lead change hands three times, with pole-sitter Darryl O’Young being overtaken by Gabriele Tarquini on the opening lap and Muller then passing the Italian driver’s Honda on lap four.
The battle for the remaining podium places was no less exciting, with the Chevrolet of Michel Nykjær finishing second – and so claiming maximum Yokohama Trophy points – and third place only decided on the final lap; Tarquini holding off a determined charge from the SEAT of Marc Basseng and the pair crossing the finish line virtually together.
The standing start then saw Basseng almost stall the car leaving the line, allowing Targuini to nip through into second place behind O’Young as the field headed down to the first chicane. Driving around the outside of the BMW at Turn 3, Tarquini took the lead, with O’Young then being passed by Basseng, Nykjær and Muller in quick succession.
Tarquini’s lead lasted until lap four, when Muller first passed Basseng for second place and then the Chevrolet driver snatched the lead from the Castrol Honda team Civic before Muller held on to take his second win of the day.
Behind Muller, Nykjær, Tarquini and Basseng, Muller’s teammate Tom Chilton finished fifth, ahead of Pepe Oriola, James Nash, Tiago Monteiro and Stefano D’Aste. Rob Huff once again carved his way through the field after starting from the back of the grid to score a point by finishing in tenth place.
Start – Basseng almost stalled the car and Tarquini passed him.
Lap 1 – Tarquini passed O’Young to take the lead. Basseng, Nykjær and Muller all then passed O’Young for 2nd, 3rd and 4th places respectively. Münnich went into the pits.
Lap 2 – Barth spun. MacDowall went into the gravel at the Parabolica. Nash and Oriola passed O’Young.
Lap 3 – Muller passed Nykjær for 3rd place. Dayraut, Bennani, Monje and MacDowall all used the escape road at Turn 1.
Lap 4 – Basseng made a mistake on the exit to T1, allowing Muller to take 2nd place. Muller passed Tarquini to take the lead. By now, Huff was up to 14th place and Boardman (also started from the back of the grid) was 19th. Bennani was given a drive-through penalty.
Lap 5 – Monteiro and D’Aste passed O’Young for 8th and 9th places.
Lap 6 – Basseng went straight on at Turn 1 and dropped to 4th. Coronel and Huff passed O’Young for 10th and 11th.
Lap 7 – Chilton passed Oriola for 6th after Oriola took to the escape road at T1. Nykjær passed Tarquini for 2nd.
Lap 8 – Chilton passed Nash for 5th. Tarquini re-took 2nd, but Nykjær promptly re-took the place at Ascari. Boardman spun.
Lap 9 – Huff was now in 10th place. Basseng was threatening Tarquini.
Lap 10 – Tarquini held off Basseng to take third place by 0.087 second.
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