Andy Priaulx claimed his second World Touring Car victory of the season with a hard-fought win in a torrential first race of the day at Okayama.
A downpour half an hour before the start meant the race had to be started behind the safety car. When it peeled off at the end of the second lap, Priaulx inherited the lead almost immediately when polesitter and championship leader Gabriele Tarquini let his car drift too wide on the approach to Turn 2, Williams Corner, and slid wide across the grass.
Priaulx, who only missed out on pole by 0.050sec in qualifying, needed no further invitation to stake his claim on the race. He and fellow BMW driver Jorg Muller moved away at the front, while third-placed Jordi Gene made a mistake and fell behind Rob Huff, and then slowed to sacrifice himself for his SEAT teammates.
Huff was left to chase the BMWs from a distance, but Priaulx and Muller were left to contest the race between themselves in the closing stages.
Priaulx's car dropped off towards the end as he struggle with fading brakes. Muller closed in with three laps to go and attack him doggedly to the finish. There was plenty of powersliding and a bit of door banging, as Muller attacked at the hairpin and again at Redman Corner, but the teammates kept it clean and Priaulx survived the final turns to clinch his 12th career WTCC win.
Yvan Muller was gifted fourth place by title rival Tarquini's first lap off, and Gene's sacrifice, while Tarquini himself recovered to fifth past Tiago Monteiro and Gene to minimise the loss to Muller.
Augusto Farfus continued the habit of his season by recovering from an incident on the first lap to take eighth place and pole position for race two. This time the Brazilian followed Tarquini wide at Williams Corner and dropped to 14th.
As he approached the top 10 he came across a battle for eighth already in full flow, between independent championship leader Tom Coronel, the Lada of James Thompson and the Chevrolet of Alain Menu.
Menu and Farfus made their way ahead of Thompson and Coronel and engaged each other in a heated scrap to the end. They touched several times before Farfus threw his car down the inside of Menu at Mike Knight Corner. There was contact when Menu turned in an the Chevrolet was punted wide over the grass, giving the place to Farfus.
Coronel completed the top 10 , with Thompson 11th and Nicola Larini 12th. Coronel's nearest class rival was Felix Porteiro in 14th, who survived a late duel for the place when Stefano D'Aste spun off on the last lap.
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap
1. Andy Priaulx BMW 32m18.887s
2. Jorg Muller BMW 0.484s
3. Rob Huff Chevrolet 2.552s
4. Yvan Muller SEAT 12.066s
5. Gabriele Tarquini SEAT 15.757s
6. Jordi Gene SEAT 17.131s
7. Tiago Monteiro SEAT 18.693s
8. Augusto Farfus BMW 25.403s
9. Alain Menu Chevrolet 28.163s
10. Tom Coronel SEAT 30.133s
11. James Thompson Lada 30.693s
12. Nicola Larini Chevrolet 32.217s
13. Jaap van Lagen Lada 40.278s
14. Felix Porteiro BMW 50.587s
15. Alex Zanardi BMW 55.891s
16. Kirill Ladygin Lada 57.180s
17. Seiji Ara BMW 58.480s
18. Tom Boardman SEAT 1m05.796s
19. Kristian Poulsen BMW 1m09.905s
20. Norbertu Taniguchi BMW 1m15.829s
21. Masaki Kano BMW 1m28.415s
22. Joao Paulo de Oliveira SEAT 1m29.405s
23. Henry Ho BMW 1m53.615s
24. Stefano D'Aste BMW +1 lap
25. Rickard Rydell SEAT +2 laps
Franz Engstler BMW 3 laps
Sergio Hernandez BMW 2 laps