Cruzes Dominate Season Opener in Monza

Yvan Muller, Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T, Chevrolet
Yvan Muller, Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T, Chevrolet

Photo by: xpb.cc

A 1-2 in the first race and 1-2-3 in the second for the Cruzes

MONZA, 11 March 2012: The Cruzes had the best possible start of the 2012 season in Monza, dominating both races and claiming five of the six podium places.

Reigning World Champion Yvan Muller won both races with Rob Huff completing the 1-2 in Race 1 while Alain Menu and Rob Huff finished second and third respectively in Race 2 to ensure a 1-2-3 finish.

It was a lively first couple of laps in Race 1, with the three RML-run Cruzes fighting against poleman Gabriele Tarquini. Yvan Muller managed to overtake at the end of lap 1 to take the lead, which he then lost in lap 2 when he cut the first chicane.

The Frenchman retook the lead to cruise all the way to the chequered flag. Rob Huff and Alain Menu touched at Lesmo in lap 2, dropping them a number of places. The Swiss fared worse as he ran wide in the gravel. Both recovered, with Huff eventually finishing 2nd and Menu 7th.

The privateer Cruzes also shone, with Rickard Rydell taking 4th in Race 1 and Alex MacDowall 7th in Race 2

Yvan Muller (1st /1st): “The season couldn’t have started in a better way and I am very happy with the results. There is always a little bit of extra pressure ahead of a season opener but with age, you learn to cope with it. The first laps of Race 1 were hot; I managed to pass Tarquini but then I had to go straight in the first chicane.

“Despite the fact I was leading and therefore didn’t gain any position, I preferred to let Gabriele past not to risk any penalty. Later, I retook the lead and everything went smoothly except for some oil on the track and some vibrations in the closing laps. Race 2 was very tough, and when I was hit at the back by Rob in lap 2 and sent into a complete spin, I thought it was the end of it. Luckily, I did not lose positions. It was an unexpected win.”

Rob Huff (2nd/3th ): “It’s a good start of the season, with some good points. Now, we need to build on this and go forward. Race 1 was pretty crazy in the initial laps and you could feel that everyone was eager to race after four months of inactivity. After the contact with Alain, I was 6th but I regained positions and finished second.

“It was difficult to overtake Rydell as he was fast and pushing hard. In Race 2, there was an incident between Yvan and Gabriele in the chicane; I think both Tarquini and I braked too late, but the good thing is that I stayed on the track.”

Alain Menu (7th/2nd): “I am happy with my driving and the car performance, slightly less with the results. Race 1 was clearly not very successful for me. We were all very close at the beginning and there was contact with Rob twice. I ran into the gravel at Lesmo 2 but fortunately rejoined the race.

“The car did not performing very well after that and I had another contact with Cerqui, after which, something got bent in the front. In Race 2, there was contact with Yvan in lap 1, then this incident in lap 2. Luckily, I was on the left line and avoided trouble. I even thought this was going to be my opportunity, but Yvan recovered extremely well. I closed in on him in the last lap, but he never makes mistakes. I was happy to finish second”.

Eric Nève: “A very good start of the season with a 1-2 and a 1-2-3, which means nearly maximum points. It was a lively weekend, to say the least and the drivers may have showed too much fighting spirit, but we’ll debrief and sort it out. What matters is that everything went well and we achieved a very strong team result."