Muller, Huff and Menu complete further testing in Italy
Following a terrific start to the season in Monza – where Chevrolet collected a double and triple podium finishes in the two races – the Cruzes are heading to another of the most popular venues in the WTCC calendar, Valencia, Spain.
The Circuito Ricardo Tormo plays host in the second round and provides a pleasant Mediterranean touch. However, the circuit is one of the most challenging for the Cruzes, which are still carrying additional weight ballast as in the Monza races. With its twisty and technical design, Valencia is a punishing circuit for brakes and tires, and one where rearwheel drive and lighter cars have a clear advantage.
The first two races of the season in Monza proved to be very lively and the team carried out a post-mortem to discuss and analyze events that took place in Italy.
”Monza was, of course, quite a memorable season-opener with great results for the team. From a sporting point of view, some limits were exceeded and we took appropriate measures to make sure that this does not happen again. We don’t want any of our drivers to be penalized by the behavior of a team mate, and we have made that very clear. We will be watching closely what happens in Valencia and I am sure that the sportive spirit we had throughout last year will prevail,” said Eric Nève, Chevrolet Motorsports Manager.
Meanwhile, the RML team, which runs the Chevrolet stable, is continuing development work on the Cruzes in Vallelunga, near Rome, Italy, where the three drivers are testing updates to the rear of the car.
Yvan Muller: “We had a very good start of the season, despite all the drama in the Monza race; but all this is behind us and we are focusing on the next races. Valencia will certainly be tougher for us. Last year, three BMWs were ahead of us towards the end of Race 2 and we only won because they committed some sort of collective suicide in the last couple of corners. I am sure we can be competitive over one lap, but in the races, it will be more complicated and we’ll have to do everything possible to save the tires for the closing laps.”
Rob Huff: “Monza was crazy; no one had raced for four months and I think in my case the rustiness showed. I am sure things will improve as from Valencia. This is a track which traditionally has been good for us. This said, the weight differential with our competitors is higher this year and Valencia is definitely the hardest circuit to carry extra weight. It will be crucial to find a good balance and to qualify well.
“The track is hard on both front and rear tires, which suffer considerably in some turns, such as the last corner where you have a long breaking zone while turning at the same time. The rear left tire is under a lot of constraints being on and off touching the surface.”
Alain Menu: “I expect Valencia to be especially challenging this year, given the weight we carry. I don’t think we can really aim at winning, but it is true that in the past we have obtained much better results than initially hoped. I like the track, but it is not one of my favorites. It is very technical with a lot of braking where you can easily make small mistakes.
“So it is very important to drive smoothly, which is not always possible during the races when you are fighting with others. It is also very important to find a very subtle set-up for the car to avoid destroying the tires towards the end of the races. My objective is to score as many points as possible.”
Ron Hartvelt, Project Manager: “We did all our winter testing in Valencia, so we can say that we are well-practiced there. But it is notoriously a difficult track for front wheel-drive cars and we have to see how the extra weight affects us. One good thing is that the Valencia round is taking place earlier in the year than usual, and this should give us cooler temperatures, which will be helpful towards preserving the tires.
“This is one of the few circuits where you race counter-clockwise, has a succession of relatively slow corners with different radius and numerous changes of direction. It is interesting but not easy. As always, we will try to do our best. We are certainly watching the weather factor very closely this time. This week we are testing at Vallelunga (Italy) with the three drivers as we have updates for the rear suspension that we want to validate. Vallelunga is not a usual choice, but has a stable Mediterranean climate and a design that suits the purpose of testing well. Additionally, it is quite representative of some of the WTCC tracks.”