Muller wins Race One in Russia to extend WTCC lead

Volokolamsk (Russia), June 9 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Yvan Muller edged out Tom Coronel to win the World Touring Car Championship’s inaugural Russian race Sunday and extend his championship lead.

Chevrolet’s Muller, who started on pole, extended his lead at the top of the standings to 97 points after his closest rival, Honda’s Gabriele Tarquini, could only manage sixth at Moscow Raceway.

The race was stopped on lap four to allow marshals to clean up a first-lap crash. After the restart, Muller and Coronel cruised away from the pack as the three-time champion Muller succeeded in holding off his competitor in a cagey duel.

Third place went to Hungary’s Norbert Michelisz reigning WTCC champion Rob Huff finished fourth. James Thompson took fifth, his best place of the season, for Lada, the Russian marque competing on home soil for the first time.

Seventh-placed Michel Nykjaer led home Pepe Oriola, James Nash and Tom Chilton, who took the last of the points places.

There was immediate action as Charles Ng pushed fellow BMW driver Fredy Barth into a spin on turn one, wrecking both cars and blocking the track. Darryl O’Young and Russia’s Nikolai Karamyshev collided into the pair and sustained serious damage.

With smashed cars and debris scattered across the racing line, the safety car led the pack for three laps before the race was stopped.

It appears unlikely that Ng and Barth’s cars can be repaired in time for race two later Sunday. O’Young and Karamyshev made the restart of race one, but finished three laps down because of the time they lost prior to the stoppage.

After the restart, Franz Engstler shared his teammate Ng’s bad luck as he was forced into the pits with damage to the front left corner of his car after a crash in the midfield. He carried on but was two laps off the pace.

–IANS/RIA Novosti

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