Alain Menu took a World Touring Car victory at Brands Hatch for the fourth consecutive year in today's first race.
The Swiss driver, who is an expert around the British track after winning two BTCC titles during a decade in the series, converted his pole position into his 11th career WTCC victory.
Menu's RML Chevrolet teammate Rob Huff took the lead around the outside of Paddock Hill Bend as the pair worked to keep Andy Priaulx's BMW at bay. As part of a deal the pair had made before the race, Huff gave the lead back to Menu on the run to Hawthorn once things had settled down.
Once back in front, Menu had the pace to pull away from Huff so the battle for second raged between Huff, Priaulx and Gabriele Tarquini's SEAT. Priaulx's first attempt to pass Huff lost him momentum and he found himself out-dragged by Gabriele Tarquini into Surtees. But Priaulx got Tarquini back at the same spot five laps later and resumed his pressure on Huff, who was struggling to match Menu's pace even when there was a lapse in the pressure from behind.
Huff absorbed the threat from Priaulx and held on to make it a Chevrolet 1-2, while Tarquini and Rickard Rydell finished fourth and fifth for SEAT. Jorg Muller was sixth for BMW after passing Tiago Monteiro in the closing laps.
Augusto Farfus will start this afternoon's second race from pole position after a stunning comeback drive to eighth place. The Brazilian was turned around on the approach to Druids by championship leader Yvan Muller on the first lap.
That was the calatyst for a pile-up as Felix Porteiro was launched airborne and landed in the side of Muller's SEAT. Guest racer Norbert Michelisz was clouted as cars scattered and his broken suspension pitched him into the side of Muller's car, putting both out of the race.
The field bunched behind the safety car while the track was cleared with Farfus down in 24th place. But in the remaining 12 laps he stormed through the field to take eighth place away from Nicola Larini at the start of the final lap as the Italian's Chevrolet faltered.
Stefano D'Aste won the independent class, pouncing on long-time leader Tom Coronel for ninth overall just after Farfus made his way past the Dutchman's SEAT.RESULTS:
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap
1. Alain Menu Chevrolet 28m25.945s
2. Rob Huff Chevrolet +1.051
3. Andy Priaulx BMW +1.240
4. Gabriele Tarquini SEAT +2.024
5. Rickard Rydell SEAT +2.420
6. Jorg Muller BMW +5.815
7. Tiago Monteiro SEAT +6.300
8. Augusto Farfus BMW +8.307
9. Stefano D'Aste BMW +9.225
10. Tom Coronel SEAT +10.884
11. Tom Boardman SEAT +11.737
12. Alex Zanardi BMW +12.415
13. Jordi Gene SEAT +13.331
14. Felix Porteiro BMW +13.675
15. Robert Dahlgren Volvo +14.087
16. Sergio Hernandez BMW +17.753
17. Philip Geipel BMW +22.188
18. James Thompson Lada +25.447
19. Kirill Ladygin Lada +37.466
20. Kristian Poulsen BMW +41.831
21. Vito Postiglione BMW +42.677
22. Nicola Larini Chevrolet +1 lap
Franz Engstler BMW 11 laps
Tommy Rustad Volvo 6 laps
Jaap van Lagen Lada 5 laps
Yvan Muller SEAT 0 laps
Norbert Michelisz SEAT 0 laps
Fastest lap, Menu 1m34.362s