MOSCOW [Russia] - Sunday 9 June 2013: Yvan Muller reigns supreme having further stretched his championship lead over Gabriele Tarquini by an impressive 113 points, adding a second place to his earlier race victory at the Moscow Raceway.
Undoubtedly one of the year's most engaging of race weekends thus far, the FIA World Touring Car Championship did not disappoint as every possible element of excitement was thrown into the mix today, from unpredictable weather to red flags, bumps and scrapes and four-abreast into the first corner!
From the retake a calculated drive from Muller ensured he led from Tom Coronel, but with a small and decreasing margin over the flying Dutchman in the BMW. Despite ever-present pressure from behind, Muller's beautifully tuned Cruze had the speed advantage and the Frenchman navigated to his fourth win of the season by just 0.511s.
Setting the fastest sector times in S3, team-mate Tom Chilton was locked in battle with James Nash, heavily attacking the Bamboo racer ahead whilst defending tirelessly from the pacey BMWs of Mehdi Bennani and Stefano D'Aste. Already into P10 from his starting slot of 12, Chilton was unable to find his way passed Nash on the narrow circuit not known for providing many overtaking opportunities.
Another dry race for the second WTCC outing, Muller and Chilton lined up P9 and P11 for the reverse grid standing start.
As the lights went out, Mehdi Bennani was comfortably leading the pack having launched ahead of Michel Nykjaer's customer Cruze and here, the story of the day unfolded. Both RML drivers were already up a position each as the duo began their assault on the top points.
By lap two Muller had picked off Pepe Oriola and was reigning in the pack ahead of Gabriele Tarquini, Tom Coronel, James Thompson and Rob Huff, positioning himself perfectly as the triple World-Champion calculated the potential for success as tension mounted - and it came just a lap later as four abreast ran toward turn one - Thompson, Tarquini, Coronel and Huff - and Muller, with better drive, tucked right up behind. Contact between Coronel and Tarquini would put them out of contention, collecting Thompson's Lada as they went and Muller squeezed into P4.
Midway of the race and Chilton was embroiled in a clean, straight fight with the recovered Tarquini as the duo squabbled for seventh position over several laps - an enjoyable tussle Chilton would later refer to as his highlight as he edged his Cruze ahead of his team-mates nearest championship rival whilst keeping Daryl O'Young at bay.
To lap 10 and Huff and Muller had reeled in second-placed man Bennani, and as Huff went for the pass, the reigning-champion ran too deep allowing the ever opportunistic Muller to dive ahead of both, promoting himself into second.
As the flag fell Muller had closed to within 0.379s of Nykjaer who claimed his third win of the year for Nika Racing. Chilton added to his earlier points finishing in 6th place.
Yvan Muller: "Of course I’m very pleased. A great weekend, with pole position, one victory and one second place - the team have done a super job again. I am especially happy for our partner Lukoil, as this is their home race. I didn't expect to have nearly twice the points of my competitors after the first half of the season so this is quite amazing. But now we have to stay focused and keep working hard like this until the end.”
Tom Chilton: "I really enjoyed Moscow Raceway and what it had to offer this weekend. I've made further progress with this car and set the fastest front wheel drive time of the weekend in Q1. In the second race, going from P12 to P6 was a great fight and I enjoyed every second of it. I lost too much time battling to get up to the podium with Yvan, but am really happy to score points in both races again."
Ron Hartvelt, WTCC Project Manager: "The team have been brilliant this weekend and we leave Moscow in a strong position following some very entertaining racing. Yvan and Tom both put in tremendous effort so they can be really proud of what they achieved here. And the locals have given huge support to the WTCC and I hope they enjoyed it as much as we have! We've just got Porto to go now before the fly-away events but despite our increased championship lead, there is still a long way to go so we'll keep pushing for more top results."