It was an excellent weekend for Chevrolet in sunny Valencia as the Cruzes won both races in the second round of the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC): Yvan Muller dominated Race 1 and Alain Menu took an action-packed Race 2 after a thrilling final fight.
With Rob Huff finishing 4th and 6th respectively, and the three RML-run Cruzes scoring points in both races, it was a very positive journey to Spain for the team, which has extended its lead in both Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ championships.
Race 1 had little story: Yvan Muller on pole maintained the lead at first corner and quickly built a consistent advantage, only slowing down in the closing laps to preserve his tires. This is the first time in WTCC history that a driver won the first three races in a row. Rob Huff finished 4th, just behind Tarquini and Coronel, and Menu took 5th after starting from 9th on the grid.
In Race 2, Alain Menu started in 2nd but he dropped a place before quickly passing Engstler and D’Aste to take the lead. A slippery portion of the track created some trouble in the closing laps allowing Coronel to catch up with Menu. Contact between the two in the very last lap sent Alain into the grass but the impressive Swiss recovered well to take the chequered flag. Huff finished the race 6th and Muller 8th.
Alain Menu (5th/1st): “I am very happy with my results especially after a difficult qualifying. Race 1 was good and I was very careful not to destroy the tires, finishing fifth after gaining four positions compared with my grid position.
“I made a couple of nice overtakes and joined Rob after a while, but did not really have an opportunity to attack him. Race 2 was exciting and closely-fought, really one of my nicest wins. I knew that at the start the BMWs would be ahead, but I passed Engstler in the early stages and caught up with D’Aste.
“My first attack on him was a bit optimistic; I touched him and gave him back the position. A few corners later, I took the lead. Probably I was a little bit too conservative, trying to preserve the tires. After ending up off-track in a slippery portion of the circuit, Coronel and the others caught up with me. I had a good fight with Tom and a contact with him sent me on the grass. It was a close escape, but I managed to stay ahead until the flag. It was about time I had some luck on my side!”
Yvan Muller (1st/8th): “Not a bad weekend at all. Race 1 was perfect, thanks to the wonderful job done by the team and the excellent balance of the car. I had a good start and tried to build a gap in the initial laps. As there was some fighting for position behind me, I pulled away easily and my only concern was not to stress the tires.
“We implemented some changes in the set-up for Race 2 and I think they weren’t good. I was running behind Rob when slid off track and lost one position, but I salvaged some good points for the championship.”
Rob Huff (4th/6th): “Not the most exciting weekend for me, but I go away with some important championship points. Race 1 was pretty uneventful and 4th was a good result. This is a track where it is very difficult to overtake, especially when it’s warm. I started well and passed Oriola and caught up with Coronel and Tarquini, but I couldn’t pass them. At the same time, I had to watch my back as Alain was right behind.
“In Race 2, the car performed better after some set-up changes, I kept pace with the cars in front of me but was never in a position to attack them. In the final laps, I was sort of watching the show ahead, and ready to take advantage of the situation, but despite the slippery track and the fights, everybody kept his position, so 6th was the best I could do.”
Eric Nève: “It’s a very good start of the season, with four wins out of four races, and some crucial points for the Manufacturers’ championship. That is excellent news because as we have seen today, competition this season is much tougher. So, getting off to a good start is very important.”
VALENCIA RACE 1 RESULT
1. Y Muller Chevrolet Cruze 13 laps in 22m53s924
2. G Tarquini SEAT León WTCC + 6s988
3. T Coronel BMW 320 TC + 7s232
4. R Huff Chevrolet Cruze + 8s892
5. A Menu Chevrolet Cruze + 9s250
15. A MacDowall Chevrolet Cruze + 31s373
22. P Di Sabatino Chevrolet Cruze + 37s926
VALENCIA RACE 2 RESULTS
1. A Menu Chevrolet Cruze 13 laps in 23m03s207
2. T Coronel BMW 320 TC + 0s993
3. D’ Aste BMW 320 TC + 6s125
4. N Michelisz BMW 320TC + 1s629
5. F Engstler BMW 320TC + 1s901
6. R Huff Chevrolet Cruze + 3s007
8. Y Muller Chevrolet Cruze + 6s368
14. A MacDowall Chevrolet Cruze + 23s167
16. P Di Sabatino Chevrolet Cruze +27s071
The RML Group comprises the following divisions; Motorsport, Automotive, Engines and Events. Based in Northamptonshire, England, the company’s 4,300 square metre facility includes design, development, manufacturing and operational support for international race/rally programmes and automotive engineering projects including performance engine development. Since its formation in 1984 RML has achieved success in a diverse range of motorsport categories including GT/sportscars, touring cars, rally cars, single seaters and oval speedway cars.
RML work together with a number of specialist official suppliers and technical partners including www.autoglym.co.uk, www.beissbarth.co.uk, www.ompracing.it, www.mobil.com and ATS Wheels – www.uniwheels.com.
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More information on RML is available at www.rmlmallock.co.uk
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Tel: +44 1933 402440
WTCC DRIVERS STANDINGS AFTER RACE 4 OF 24
1. Muller (Chevrolet), 88; 2. Menu (Chevrolet), 61; 3. Coronel (BMW), 58 ; 4. Huff (Chevrolet), 57; 5. Tarquini (SEAT), 44…
WTCC MANUFACTURERS STANDINGS AFTER RACE 4 OF 24
1. Chevrolet, 173 points; 2. BMW, 108, 3. SEAT, 101.
NEXT RACE: Race of Morocco, Marrakech, 14-15 April 2012.