RML Chevrolet rules the streets
Alain Menu completed a record-breaking World Touring Car season for RML Chevrolet with his fifth pole position and victory of 2007 through the torturous Macau streets.
Team-mates Rob Huff and Nicola Larini also put the icing on the cake for the team, with the British-driver finishing third in race one, and the Italian second in race two.
Nicola went into the weekend as one of six drivers in with a chance of winning the drivers championship, but was relying on his five rivals failing to finish both races to take the crown. As it was, double-champion Andy Priaulx was able to finish both races, completing a hat-trick of world titles.
Alain took a spectacular pole position for race one, which he converted to victory for the fifth time in 2007, setting an all-time WTCC record in the process. The Swiss driver dominated the first race, despite a jumped start from then championship leader Yvan Muller. Rob steered clear of the typical Macau mayhem to score a fine third place behind Alain. In the second, Nicola fought a race-long battle with James Thompson and Tiago Monteiro to finish second for the fifth time this year. The RML Chevrolet team's excellent results at the WTCC finale were witnessed by Chevrolet's partisan crowd, led by General Motors Asia-Pacific CEO, Nick Reilly, who is one of the WTCC programme's biggest supporters.
In the 2007 drivers championship, Nicola Larini finishes in fifth, Alain Menu in sixth and Rob Huff in ninth, whilst RML Chevrolet finishes third in the manufacturer standings.
Alain said: "As in Pau, Yvan jumped the rolling start of the first race, visibly running ahead of me before the lights went green, so he obviously took the lead of the race. I pushed him as hard as could hoping to force him into a mistake, while the stewards investigated his jumped start, but he didn't make any. Then he suddenly slowed at the Melco hairpin, where there is a permanent yellow. I brake hard to avoid passing him, as I didn't want to be trapped into an illegal an overtaking maneuver, but then I noticed he had problems so I passed him anyway and continued to win.
"In the second race I had a good start, but got hit by Huisman at Lisboa, which put me into a big slide. I came back well up the order and was close behind Jorg Muller, when at turn 10 I turned in too soon and clipped the inside wall, which bounced me off into the outside wall. Every year I make one mistake, and unfortunately it was today. All in all this has been a very good season and I'm quite pleased as well as proud with what we have achieved with RML and Chevrolet."
Nicola said: "Another second place, the fifth of the season... Always the bridesmaid but never the bride seems to be the story of my season! I'm sure I was able to win my first race here, because I figured that Andy (Priaulx) wouldn't try too much at the start since he was in the best possible position to win the championship. But at the standing start I experienced clutch problems and dropped back to third behind Andy and James (Thompson). I had a good fight with James for second, finally passing him in run-up to Lisboa. At the same time Monteiro was all over me, so sometimes it was bumper to bumper in front as well as behind. It was close on quite a few occasions, but it was a fair fight throughout. It's a shame about the start because I felt I had the fastest car in race two."
Rob said: "I had a very good start in race one. At one point I thought of coming on the radio to ask Nicola to back off a bit, as I could see that Gabriele (Tarquini) and Augusto (Farfus) in front of me were having a serious scrap for position. I didn't want that to go wrong for us to hit their debris and then ruin our race. As it turned out, it eventually did go wrong, but fortunately it was while exiting Lisboa Corner rather than under braking for that turn. I just managed to avoid Augusto's wreck but ran over some body panels anyway, luckily without puncturing.
"That incident moved me up to third which was very nice considering I had started seventh. After the start of the second race, coming into Lisboa, Monteiro turned in on me and hit me on the left front wheel, bending the wishbone. A shame because I had had a good start and was looking forward to another points finish."
Eric Neve, Motorsport Manager of Chevrolet Europe, said: "What a way to finish the season! A record fifth pole position and a seventh win, our third on as many street races this championship has. This year, the RML Chevrolet Lacetti has won every new race on the calendar (Zandvoort, Pau, Porto and Anderstorp), as well as every street race (Pau, Porto and Macau). This clearly shows the excellent natural ability of the Chevrolet Lacetti, as well as of the team running them, to successfully adapt to new or extreme circumstances each time out. Team and drivers have really done the brand proud this year, and I can hardly wait for the new season to start so we can continue our winning ways."