– Yvan Muller seals the 2013 Drivers’ Title with an insurmountable points lead
– RML claims 7th FIA WTCC title since the series’ inception in 2005 as Muller claims 4th Drivers’ crown
– Tom Chilton elected to 3rd in the standings with more crucial points collected
– Heartbreak in race two for Yvan as he suffers his first DNF of the year following midpack commotion
SUZUKA [Japan] – Sunday 22 September: Yvan Muller has been crowned the 2013 FIA World Touring Car Champion following a third place finish in today’s opening race.
Going into the weekend the Champion needed just 21 points to secure RML’s seventh FIA World Title and with points collected in qualifying yesterday, combined with today’s Round 19 podium, the Frenchman secured the honours with an insurmountable lead, thus concluding what has been an incredible year for the team competing for the first time as a privateer since the championship began in 2005.
Of his record 4th title, Yvan Muller said: “That was a great fight, but without risks – it was important to keep it a fair, clean fight and I didn’t want to take any unnecessary risks. I wanted this title; I’m proud to have done it – proud because one month before Monza we weren’t even sure we would be here and we had to find another way to be on the grid without a manufacturer. Both RML and myself had to make sacrifices to be here and so this is payback for all the hard work, both at the start of the year and the continued commitment and determination throughout the season to be standing here as Champions.”
With much of the action happening midfield, the RML duo were focussed on the target ahead. Pole-sitter Norbert Michelisz managed a sizeable lead from the front to lock in a lights to flag victory on home ground, but for Yvan and Tom, the race was off to an eventful start. Muller would pass his team-mate through the first corner but any threat from a late-braking Tiago Monteiro would be short-lived as the Honda works driver ran wide, recovering a lowly eighth.
From here the scene was virtually set, save from Muller’s ever decreasing gap to Alex MacDowall running in second. Seeking an opportunity which MacDowall would defend furiously, the Frenchman crossed the line in third with Chilton reaping further points in 4th.
In sharp contrast to the furore of race one, the day’s second – and 200th in the series’ history – swiftly followed with heartache for Muller and the team in a cruel twist of fate as the four-time champion crashed out on the opening lap minutes later.
Forced wide off the line, the Lukoil-racer could do little to respond to the midpack commotion as his Cruze veered into outside barriers and out of the race – his first DNF of the year.
In the sister Cruze for Chilton it was game on as the Briton looked to make his mark on the race. Whilst the duelling BMWs of Mehdi Bennani and Tom Coronel stole the show at the front, Chilton maintained performance and brought the sole RML Cruze home in 6th position, promoting himself to 3rd in the Drivers’ standings as he edges closer to his target of an RML 1-2.
Tom Chilton: “First congratulations to Yvan on his 4th WTCC Drivers’ title and to RML for helping him get there and in turn, securing their 7th.
“I am very happy with my weekend at Suzuka, going from joint 4th in the championship 3rd. I scored solid points in yesterday’s qualifying and both races today so from now on my strategy is all about scoring more points to try and grab 2nd place from Gabriele and end the season in a high in Macau with an RML 1-2.”
Ron Hartvelt: “What an incredible weekend. Both drivers did a fantastic job and we’re all immensely proud of our achievements here in Japan, and all year. Congratulations to Yvan for his fourth Drivers’ title and sincere thanks to all involved in helping us to get him there, and to our 7th FIA WTCC title.
“We came to this event with great anticipation for this latest title victory, but of course you can never count it until it’s done. This is a tremendous result and one which summarises the year perfectly.
“Once again our team has been the force to be reckoned with but that doesn’t come easily – it takes a huge amount of work by everyone – RML, the drivers, our partners and sponsors – and the commitment to getting this project on the road this year, let alone to defend our championship, has been justly rewarded.
“But we won’t be relaxing just yet – our focus remains on getting Tom to second in the Drivers’ standings and of course, we have the Teams’ trophy too.”
Drivers’ Championship After Rds 19 & 20:
1. MULLER Yvan 360
2. TARQUINI Gabriele 211
3. CHILTON Tom 183
4. NASH James 181
5. NYKJÆR Michel 180
6. MICHELISZ Norbert 156
7. HUFF Rob 153
8. CORONEL Tom 143
9. ORIOLA Pepe 127
10. MONTEIRO Tiago 117
Yokohama Teams’ Trophy After Rds 19 & 20:
1. RML 209 pt
2. bamboo-engineering 132 pt
3. ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport 93 pt