– RML reflects on Macau’s ten year reign as FIA WTCC season finale
– Impressive results record for the Lacetti/Cruze built by Ray Mallock’s team
– 2015 promising to be another enthralling WTCC season for TC1 RML-Cruzes
WELLINGBOROUGH [UK] – Friday 12 December 2014: As the FIA World Touring Car Championship paddock reflects on the 2014 season, and indeed the 10-year anniversary of the ever-popular series launched in 2005, the new year rings several changes for the 2015 campaign, not least the absence of the Macau Grand Prix.
The only venue to stage both car and motorcycle events on the same weekend, Macau has successfully hosted the WTCC season finale every year since 2005 (the only venue to do so) and claims a rich history in Formula 3, with many F1 legends having competed in their early careers.
Hugely popular amongst the WTCC fraternity both for its on- and off-track appeal, the Guia circuit sits within one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People’s Republic of China (Hong Kong being the second). On the Western side of the Pearl River Delta, Macau is a former Portuguese enclave and, claiming an estimated population of around 624,000 in an area of 31.3 km2 , it is the most densely populated region in the world. A Mecca for local wealth, Macau is considered the Las Vegas of Asia.
Competing as the works Chevrolet team, RML has an enviable record of success on the street circuit with both the Lacetti and Cruze models hitting the jackpot. Alain Menu claimed the first Macanese victory for the Chevrolet brand in 2007 with the Lacetti, and went on to share further success with team-mate, Rob Huff – both scoring a win apiece the following year.
The 2009 season heralded change as the Lacetti was retired from the world stage (reappearing as an unexpected late entry for the BTCC instead) and the Chevrolet Cruze joined the field. Huff raced straight to the top step of the podium in its debut year – a performance he would repeat in 2010 before completing ‘the double’ in 2011 with the Cruze 1.6T, taking both race wins and becoming widely lauded as the ‘King of Macau!’
The Chevrolet Cruze dominated again in 2012, in what became an epic title showdown between the team-mates. It was anyone’s guess who would take overall victory, but as drama unfolded with Huff in the wall and, subsequently, early retirement, Muller and Menu each secured a win before Huff’s race two comeback drive sealed his maiden WTCC championship crown – a fitting conclusion to his eight-year partnership with RML and a farewell bow by the departing American marque, Chevrolet.
For 2013 the Cruze had undergone further changes, competing for the first time as a privateer, run by RML in partnership with Lukoil and Aon. Muller was partnered by former-BTCC champion, Tom Chilton.
In his final year with the Wellingborough team, Muller took his second victory on the streets of Macau, having already wrapped up the 2013 Drivers’ title in Suzuka.
This year five TC1 RML-Cruzes competed on the infamous track, ROAL – 2014 Yokohama Teams’ Trophy winners, Münnich and Campos – the latter securing an end of season podium celebration for Hugo Valente in third.
Whilst some may lament the absence of Macau next year, the new calendar looks set to provide yet more enthralling racing with the welcome addition of the Nordschleife, Thailand and the inaugural night race showdown in Qatar as the FIA WTCC grows from strength to strength. And for the TC1 RML-Cruze, the next chapter is shaping up to be very promising!
RML Macau Highlights 2005-2013 (works team):
7 pole positions for R1 scored 2 front-row lockouts scored in qualifying (1, 2, 3) in 2012 & 2010. 10 victories 12 podium appearances 8 fastest laps set Podium lockout (1, 2, 3) in 2012 46 of 52 Macau race starts completed