Yvan Muller seems to pull the unlikeliest results out of the bag. Take this weekend’s opening World Touring Car Championship round at Monza, for example. In race one, the reigning Champion lined up second alongside a resurgent Gabriele Tarquini. Even though a clean move into Parabollica gave Muller the lead entering lap two, immediate retaliation from the Lukoil SEAT caused Muller to outbrake himself into the first chicane and take to the grass.
By Muller’s own admission, that should have been it: sure, go for broke and try for a podium, but he knew he’d just thrown away 50 points. Then came his first reprieve of the weekend when Tarquini – already with a sizeable lead – slid wide on oil at the first Lesmo, dropped presumably by Isaac Tutumlu’s smoking Proteam Racing BMW. The lead handed back to him on a plate, Muller romped home to an easy win. Tarquini cruised home a disappointed third.
Come the reversed race two and Muller found himself lining up behind Chevy works team-mates Rob Huff and Alain Menu, and Chevrolet Sweden’s Rickard Rydell. With another good start safely under his belt, Muller immediately found himself in a blue-suited battle for position with inevitable consequences.
While last year it was Muller who punted Menu into the gravel, so it was Muller who this year received the same treatment from Huff as the Chevy’s Monza panel-bashing tradition continued. Though he recovered after a quick 360 mid-track, once again the Frenchman seemed out of it.