Weather: Sunny and clear
Date: Sunday, November 16, 2008
Menu wins as Muller takes FIA WTCC title
Alain Menu claimed victory for Chevrolet in the first of today's FIA World Touring Car Championship races at Macau - but all eyes were on SEAT driver Yvan Muller whose third place was enough to win the title.
Muller had gone into the race with a 14-points advantage over SEAT teammate Gabriele Tarquini, and only needed to finish in the wheel tracks of his Italian colleague to secure himself the championship.
But rather than play it too safe, Muller made sure to clinch the crown in style as he battled hard for the final place on the podium - behind Menu and Andy Priaulx.
Menu led away cleanly at the start and had managed to open up a 2.8 seconds advantage over Priaulx by the end of the first two laps - before Priaulx responded and closed the gap down.
Priaulx had seen off a challenge from Chevrolet's Rob Huff at Lisboa and San Francisco Bend on lap two, where the pair brushed doors, before getting some clear air and getting right on the back of Menu by the closing stages of the race. He did not have enough speed to get past, however, finishing 0.523 seconds behind.
Muller had run fifth in the early stages of the race, but moved up to fourth on lap two when Huff's incident with Priaulx saw him drop down the order. He then gained another spot when SEAT teammate Rickard Rydell slowed with a suspected engine failure on lap four.
After that, Muller faced pressure from behind, first from Huff and then from Augusto Farfus who had moved up to fourth on the penultimate lap. Muller was able to hold on, however, and clinch his first WTCC crown - with Tarquini finishing seventh.
"I was thinking four laps to the end, when will the bad luck come," said Muller, who saw his title hopes evaporate last year when he was stopped with a mechanical problem. "But finally we did it. It was tough work"