Wellingborough [UK] – Tuesday 9th June 2015: CHEVROLET RML CRUZE DRIVERS FEEL THE HEAT IN MOSCOW
A fourth consecutive top 5 qualifying performance for the customer Cruze
Race 2 sees the heavy Chevy’s fight with the Citroens to entertain the big Moscow crowd
From Hungary, the four RML customer teams headed to Russia for rounds 9 and 10 World Touring Car Championship at the Moscow Raceway keen to continue the upward trend of performances seen this season so far, despite having to carry increased levels of success ballast.
And in qualifying, this trend continued with another Chevy making it into Q3 and the top 5 run off. This time it was Tom Chilton with an excellent performance, although in truth he should have been joined by Hugo Valente who made a mistake into the tricky turn 9 on his Q2 run. Hugo was quick enough for at least P4.
Under blue skies and 25C, race 1 didn’t get off to the best start. Tom Chilton made an average start to head into turn 1 in 6th place, whilst Valente made a poor getaway to run P11 at the end of lap1. There was also trouble for Coronel who got turned around by the Lada of Van Lagen and D’Aste who, after a good start, came together with Bennani to earn a 30s penalty
Near the front the ROAL run Cruze of Chilton was stuck behind the Citroen of Ma for the duration, applying early race pressure before finishing just 1.6s behind at the flag. Tom won the Independents Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy ahead of Michelisz and moved into 2nd place in the standings.
Ahead of the recovering D’Aste, Bennani and Coronel, Filippi and Demoustier came together, causing retirement for the Corsican with a broken front left wishbone.
If race 1 was a little processional for Chilton, race 2 proved to be one of the Briton’s most exciting. Slotting into P9 on lap 1, Capsicum Tom was followed by DHL Tom in P11. The two ROAL cars looked strong, ultimately battling for P6 with Valente and the Citroens of Muller and Lopez. If Coronel, who looked much happier in race 2, was holding a watching brief, Chilton was right in the thick of it, at one point running 3 abreast with the Citroens and overtaking both World Champions with a great inside move into Turn 4.
Up front Valente was comfortable in 4th place only for some messy laps to drop the Campos driver behind Huff and Tarquini. Hugo then dropped off the leading 5 to be caught by the crazy gang of Muller, Loeb and Chilton. More great dicing followed before Muller and Loeb managed to sneak up the road as Valente, Chilton and Coronel started squabbling among themselves. The Cruzes finished three abreast in 8th, 9th and 10th places at the end of a race full of thrills and spills.
A pumped up Tom summed it up “It was extremely exciting and at one point down the whole of the back straight I was waving to them, one on my left, one on my right thinking they were both going to pass me and then suddenly the aerodynamics started working and I started accelerating so I had to get my hands back on the wheel and change into sixth gear. That whole race was very, very exciting from start to finish. We weren’t able to fight for first, second or third but we’ve done a fantastic job with 40 kilos of ballast and set some really good times.”
Seven seconds further back and recovering from an engine change (caused by an over rev) induced grid penalty in race 1, Gregoire Demoustier had his strongest race so far to beat Stefano D’Aste and John Filippi.
With the Chevrolet RML Cruze’s strong qualifying results, its looking like we will gain another 10kg, Honda will gaining 20kg and Lada staying on minimum weight.
The WTCC this weekend returns to racing with back to back races in Slovakia and France.