Citroen won the first MAC3 time trial event of the 2016 World Touring Car Championship by just three-hundredths of a second from Lada.
Behind the leaders, Honda’s attempt was almost literally stalled after opening race pole-sitter Rob Huff bogged down at the start.
The three-car time trial pursuit race followed on from qualifying, with Lada taking up their positions first after finishing third in last year’s championship.
Gabriele Tarquini made the best get-away and led the trio of Vestas into Turn 1 with Hugo Valente in tow and Nicky Catsburg the third positioned car.
Lada completed their two lap run in 3m07.175s, leaving Honda to go next, but the Japanese marque hit disaster after Huff’s Civic WTCC bogged down at the start and trailed his two team-mates by almost two seconds into the first corner.
Honda went on to finish 2.453s away from eventual winners Citroen, who went last, but it wasn’t an easy run for the French team.
Although the three Citroens crossed the first timing beam half a second faster than Lada, the time fell away in each sector, particularly on the last lap with Citroen going on to finish just 0.030s ahead of Lada.
With ten points awarded for the winning manufacturer, when added to the drivers’ points awarded to the top five in qualifying, Citroen begin 2016 where they finished, leading the standings with 18 points.
Behind them, Lada and Honda joint second on 10 points each, with Volvo Polestar in last place, collecting a point with Thed Bjork the fifth-best manufacturer-entered driver in qualifying.
Neil Hudson / TouringCarTimes