1-2-3 win and many thrills for the Cruzes in Austria
Huff, Muller and Menu dominate Race 1, Huff salvages 2nd amid tire drama in Race 2
SALZBURGRING, 20 May 2012: Chevrolet comfortably claimed a 1-2-3 win in Race 1 of the WTCC Round 6 but a tire nightmare in the last corners in Race 2 put paid to any hopes of a double.
The three Chevrolet drivers started Race 2 from 8th, 9th and 10th in the reversed grid, but were able to climb to the top three positions by mid-race thanks to perfectly executed overtakes and the Cruzes which were performing excellently on the fast Austrian track.
In lap 8, though, Alain Menu spun off the track at high speed with a puncture in his front left tire, impacting violently against the crash barrier but escaping uninjured. He was followed a few moments later by MacDowall, in a Bamboo Engineering Cruze, with an identical problem.
Despite lifting off the pace, Frenchman Yvan Muller and Briton Rob Huff, who were leading the race, suffered the same fate in the final corners of the last lap. Muller ended in the gravel but regained control and limped home in 8th. Huff managed to resist the pressure from BMW driver Tom Coronel, but Stefano D’Aste took advantage of that duel to take his first ever WTCC victory.
Earlier in the day, the three RML run Cruzes, who had qualified in the three top positions, dominated Race 1 with Rob Huff clinching his second win of the season ahead of Muller and Menu.
While Chevrolet further extends its lead in the Manufacturers’ championship, Huff gained a position and now lies in 2nd place, eight points behind Muller who leads the Drivers’ standings. Menu is in third place on 175 points.
Rob Huff (1st/2nd): “I’m obviously very happy with how things went today for me – that’s the kind of day I needed and was waiting for. I was lucky in Race 2, unlike Yvan. But that’s how championships go and you have to take things as they come.
“Race 1 was relatively quiet. I spent most of the time focusing on what was happening behind me and had to defend my position from Yvan. It was definitely nice to win my second race of the year.
“In Race 2, I had an excellent start and we quickly gained positions. We were alerted by radio about Alain’s puncture, so we were extremely cautious after that. Despite our efforts, Yvan and I also ended up with punctures in the front left tires. Luckily, it happened to me in the last corner, in a turn where consequences were minimal. I was able to save second position. Salzburgring is a terrific circuit and I definitely look forward to come back here next year.”
Yvan Muller (2nd/8th): “Race 2 was definitely 200 meters too long. Otherwise, it would have been a very good weekend. Coming 2nd in Race 1 was a good result; then everything looked perfect in Race 2. After Alain had the problem with his tire, Rob and I reduced the pace, but in the final laps we had to push again as the BMWs were getting close.
“We had the same set-up in Race 2 as in Race 1, so I don’t know why we had the punctures, I suspect it is due to the higher temperature of the surface. Also, in Race 1, there were a couple of safety car periods and this may have helped keep the tires cooler. That’s racing. The good thing is that I scored some points in Race 2 despite everything and I am still leading the championship.”
Alain Menu (3rd/DNF): “Races are races. I am happy with my driving in Race 1. I had a good pace but I did not want to attack my teammates because I was trying to preserve the tires and waiting for events to unfold.
“In Race 2, I had a bad start and had to fight to claim 3rd position. Then, there was the puncture which came all of a sudden, relatively early in the race. I really don’t know if anything happened – maybe I went over some debris.
“What I can say is that the Fahrerlager Kurve is certainly the worst place for something like this to happen. You take that part of the track at full speed in 6th gear and it’s not a nice feeling when you have absolutely no control of a car that is heading towards a guard rail. Luckily, the gravel slowed me down and that made the shunt somehow softer.”
Eric Nève: “What a day full of emotions. Today we got another proof that on some tracks, it is the law of the circuit that prevails. We knew the Salzburgring would be tough on the front left tires and that’s what happened, with so many cars ending up with punctures, especially in Race 2, when the surface and the temperature were warmer.
“Still, we leave with good results and that’s very positive. Now we will have to work to solve the tire problem ahead of Portimão (Portugal), which is also a very challenging track for tires and where we can expect even higher temperatures.”