CHEVROLET RULES: DOUBLE LACETTI VICTORY PAVES WAY FOR CRUZE IN 2009
Menu And Huff Win; Orido First Japanese Driver To Score WTCC Points
MACAU, 16th November 2008 Alain Menu and Rob Huff successfully closed the four-season Lacetti-chapter for Chevrolet in the World Touring Car Championship by scoring two wins in the streets of Macau, the jewel in the crown of the WTCC. While Menu dominated race 1 from start to finish, Huff was lucky to steer clear of the last-lap mayhem in race 2 and move up from fourth to first in the matter of a few corners from the finish. By doing so, he also secured his third place in the final standings of the World Drivers Championship, the highest position a Chevrolet driver has ever finished. Nicola Larini had a less successful weekend, but Max Orido used his knowledge of the track to finish seventh in race 2 after having started last in race 1. Orido thus becomes the first Japanese driver in the WTCC history to score points.
Over its four-year career, the Chevrolet Lacetti scored 14 wins, 37 podium finishes and a total of 652 points towards the Manufacturers' Championship. Of these 14 wins, two were triple victories where Chevrolet wiped out the podium. Eight pole positions and nine fastest race laps complete the impressive statistics for Chevrolet in the FIA WTCC. Outside of the WTCC, the Chevrolet Lacetti also won the 2008 FIA European Touring Car Cup, the 2006 German Touring Car Championship, and the 2008 Danish Touring Car Championship in the Teams standings. Other than regular team drivers Alain Menu, Rob Huff and Nicola Larini, Chevrolet Lacettis were also successfully driven by Rickard Rydell, Max Orido, Michael Nykjaer, Vincent Radermecker, Michael Outzen, Henrik Lundgaard, Maria De Villota, Tomas Schie, Rainer Bastuck, Harry Vaulkhard and Matt Allison.
With the Lacetti now officially retired from active duty, the RML team will focus its attention on further developing the Chevrolet Cruze for the 2009 WTCC season which will start in Brazil in early March. After tests at MIRA, Guadix in Spain and Estoril in Portugal, the Cruze will be further tested at different tracks in southern Europe.
Rob Huff (5th/1st): "I am very pleased with this win, but I was also very lucky. In my mind I had just settled for fourth, when all of sudden everybody in front of me went off. I came through one of the corners and saw Thompson in the wall. Then shortly after I saw Gabriele (Tarquini) get airborne over a wheel Farfus had just lost. Fortunately I managed to get through unscathed and make it to the finish, thanks to Duncan, my race engineer, who called me on the radio to warn me for all the oil on the track. This second win of the day is the perfect farewell for the Chevrolet Lacetti, which has been a fantastic car for us these past four years."
Alain Menu (1st/DNF): "I didn't have a great start in the first race and saw Andy (Priaulx) pull up alongside me. But I managed to hang on to the lead going into Lisboa and made a run for it on the first few laps. The air hose to my helmet came undone, but it didn't affect me too much, other than that the tube was flapping around in the cockpit. In the second half of the race my lead was big enough to ease off and control the race till the finish. In the second race I was minding my own business in sixth when I oversteered into the wall on oil that was left behind by Gabriele (Tarquini), so that was that. So with three wins, this season hasn't been my best, but with a pole position and a win this weekend and the prospect of racing the new Cruze in 2009, things are looking good for the future."
Nicola Larini (9th/DNF): "I had a good start in the first race, making up a few places on the long straights. But pretty soon I had a problem when the alternator belt came off, which cut out the performance of the power steering. The last few laps therefore were very difficult to drive as the power steering sometimes came on and then disappeared again. And on this track one needs power steering! In race 2, I jumped the start though not deliberately. I was working the handbrake and the clutch, but then I lost all brake pressure and I just had to go. A pity, because a split second later the lights went green. So I was given a drive-through penalty, but then I experienced problems with downshifting and had to park the car. "
Max Orido (16th/7th): "I had to start race 1 last as I had lost all my qualifying times when I had failed to stop for scrutineering in that session. But I managed to work my way up from the back of the grid to 16th, so I can say I had a good first race. Staring from that position in race 2, I couldn't have dreamed to finish in the points but one by one the guys in front of me fell by the wayside and I managed to finish seventh. I am very proud to be the first Japanese driver ever to score points in the WTCC, and also to have been able to score points for Chevrolet towards the Manufacturers' Championship. Although it lasted only three races, my Chevrolet adventure will be one to remember."