ALL SYSTEMS GO: CHEVROLET EAGER TO START 2008 WTCC IN BRAZIL Nicola Larini, Rob Huff, Alain Menu Have Sights Set On World Title ZURICH / WELLINGBOROUGH: Next weekend the 2008 World Touring Car Championship will kick off in the Brazilian city of...
ALL SYSTEMS GO: CHEVROLET EAGER TO START 2008 WTCC IN BRAZIL
Nicola Larini, Rob Huff, Alain Menu Have Sights Set On World Title
ZURICH / WELLINGBOROUGH: Next weekend the 2008 World Touring Car Championship will kick off in the Brazilian city of Curitiba with the first two of 24 races. Over the next nine months the WTCC teams and drivers will visit Mexico, Spain, France, the Czech Republic, Portugal, England, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Japan and China, where as can be expected the title will be decided in the streets of Macau. This year more than before, the Chevrolet team intends to be a title contender for the drivers' championship and if the blue team's 2007 form is anything to go by the competition should take note. After a successful winter of extensive testing in southern Europe as well as in the UK, drivers and team are very much looking forward to start the new season where they left off: on the winner's podium.
Nicola Larini (Chevrolet Lacetti #6): "I am happy that the winter break is over, I am really anxious to go racing again! After the excellent season we had in 2007, our objective can only be to do even better! It won't be easy, but I am confident we can do it. Still, this year it is really difficult to make any prediction as there are more variables than usual at this time of the year. We need to see how the diesel cars will perform and what the impact of the changes in the technical rules and in the success ballast system will be. In a way, it is a new adventure that starts, but we can face it in the knowledge of having worked in the right direction during the winter break. Curitiba has not always been a favorable track for us in the past, so it would be particularly positive to score a good result this time. Personally, I feel as motivated as ever and I have been working a lot on my physical preparation as well."
Rob Huff (Chevrolet Lacetti #7): "In Brazil we want to hit the ground running and get the consistency going from day 1 by scoring some points. The first two races it will be difficult to beat the turbocharged diesels because of the high altitude of the tracks in Curitiba and Puebla, and we know from last year that the BMW's are strong there as well, so if we can bring home some points we should be very happy. Since the second round of last year's championship, the Chevrolet drivers scored points at every single round bar the first Oschersleben race, so we'd obviously love to keep that momentum going. Our engineers have once again done an outstanding job over winter and the Lacetti is probably even better than it was last year. Personally I have never been better prepared, physically and mentally, than I am now."
Alain Menu (Chevrolet Lacetti #8): "2008 is going to be a great year, I'm sure. We proved last year that the Chevrolet team, car and drivers have championship-winning potential and only bad luck kept us from having a proper shot at the title at the finale in Macau. Last year I mainly focused on winning races, which was nice for everybody involved of course, but the tough luck which always seemed to befell me in the second races meant that while being the driver with the most wins in the championship I had no chance of winning the title. So this year my main focus will be to try and score points at every race and be as regular as possible. If it means winning less races but scoring more points, I'll go for the points. The new success ballast system in any case puts more emphasis on being regular throughout the season rather than to peek at certain tracks, so regularity will be the name of the game for anyone with title ambitions. With the 2008-spec Lacetti being already as good as it has been in testing I see no reason why we shouldn't be able to gain points at every outing."
Mark Busfield (Team Manager RML): "We have had a very busy winter this year, with the 2008-spec Chevrolet Lacetti covering some 6000 kilometres of testing at a variety of racetracks in Europe, namely Almeria, Valencia, and Guadix in Spain, Estoril in Portugal and the MIRA Proving Grounds in the UK. The race cars have of course already left for Brazil a long time ago, after each driver had tested his race car at either Estoril or Valencia, we continued testing in February with our dedicated test car. This week the 2008-spec engines have been flown out to Brazil as well. With the FIA engine waiver removed for the 2008 season meaning we are back at a 11.0:1 compression ratio, reduced valve lift and smaller tappet size we chose to work and test the engines for as long possible. As a result of the revoked waiver, we may have lost a few horses between last season and this, but I'm sure we will be right there where we want to be from the word go. Nevertheless, the engine situation looks likely to become the main topic in the WTCC this year."
Wayne Brannon (CEO Chevrolet Europe): "This will be our first year after our initial 3-year commitment to the World Touring Car Championship. With the success the team has known so far, they have set themselves very high goals in line with their last year's achievements. This year we will do even more to offer our dealers, employees and fans a great platform for great racing weekends. In 2007, Chevrolet was the fastest growing brand in Europe and the one that made the most progress in the WTCC. Needless to say I look very much forward to keeping the momentum going at the dealerships as well as at the race tracks. Chevrolet dealers throughout Europe are supporting the team, as will be witnessed shortly when the WTCC returns to the Old Continent and the "blue army" will invade the grandstands again!"
Eric Nève (Manager Motorsports Chevrolet Europe): "The World Touring Car Championship is now in its fourth year and one can only say that it has been going from strength to strength. This year we will see more privateer teams enter than ever before, which means the series is in a very healthy state indeed. Most of these new teams run state-of-the-art cars with very good drivers, so we'll have to beat more competitors to be as successful as we were last year, which will add even more shine to a good result. The regulations have been adapted to most people's liking and the FIA are closely monitoring between diesel and fuel engines to achieve equality, so everybody is feeling quite positive about the 2008 season. As for ourselves, we have been busier than ever in developing and fine-tuning the 2008-spec Chevrolet Lacetti. Even while the race cars were already on their way to Brazil the RML team could be found testing in Spain." CURITIBA RACE SCHEDULE (Local time CET - 4 hours)
CURITIBA WTCC ON TV
Qualifying and the races will be broadcasted live on Eurosport International. The warm-up will be broadcasted live on Eurosport 2.
CHEVROLET RACING AROUND THE GLOBE
In the US, Chevrolet driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished highest Chevrolet in the Daytona 500, the opening race of the 36-race NASCAR Sprint Cup series. Earnhardt Jr. finished in ninth in a race which saw 32 cars finish on the lead lap. More information can be found on www.nascar.com.