Weather: partially cloudy and windy, with a dry track
Another WTCC weekend turned into a triumph for Chevrolet, as Yvan Muller and Rob Huff shared victories at Curitiba. This means that 13 races out of the 16 held so far have been won by the blue Cruze cars.
In the first race Muller started from pole position and led home Alain Menu and Huff, while Gabriele Tarquini had to settle in fourth position after he trying in vain to disrupt the Chevrolet trio at the start.
I have recovered one point of my gap from Yvan and now we go to Sonoma, that is a new circuit for all of us.
The Italian ace was close to perform a miracle in the second race. For a few laps he led, managing to resist Huff’s pressure. Eventually Tarquini had to surrender, losing also second place to Menu. But at least he claimed a well deserved third position ahead of Muller.
The Frenchman has maintained his championship lead and lost only one point to Huff, who trails by 17. Menu is third a further 20 points adrift. But with 220 points still at stake in the remaining four events, anything may happen among them. In the Manufacturers’ Championship, Chevrolet leads by 243 points and it’s just one step away from a third consecutive world title. Behind the bow tie brand, BMW and SEAT are split by five points only.
Michel Nykjær was the hero of the Yokohama Trophy. On his WTCC comeback and first races with bamboo-engineering, the Dane won the Race 1 and was second in Race 2. He also collected two brilliant overall results: fifth and sixth, better than his Swedish team-mate Rickard Rydell at Monza earlier this year.
Norbert Michelisz won the second race and this was a crucial result that enabled him to jump on top of the trophy standings, five points ahead of Pepe Oriola who received a time penalty in Race 1 and retired with an engine problem in Race 2. The championship takes now a long summer break, while cars and parts are being shipped to USA. Rounds 17 and 18 will take place at Sonoma on September 23.
RACE 1 – CHEVROLET TRIO CRUISES TO VICTORY
The three Chevrolet Cruze cars of Yvan Muller, Alain Menu and Rob Huff cruised for the whole race to claim another 1-2-3 finish. The seventh victory of the season for Muller who further stretched his championship leadership.
The trio of Chevrolet factory drivers finished in the same order as they had started. Only Huff, third on the grid, had to face a difficult moment at the start, when he rejected Gabriele Tarquini’s attempt to spoil the Chevy party.
Afterwards, Muller, Menu and Huff paraded until the chequered flag, while Tarquini had to be contented with a fourth place ahead of two other Chevrolet cars, those run by bamboo-engineering.
Michel Nykjær celebrated his WTCC comeback with a fifth place that was also worth victory in the Yokohama Trophy, ahead of his team-mate Alex MacDowall. Most of the action happened between the mid-fielders, with fierce battles involving the likes of Michelisz, Oriola, Boardman, Engstler, D’Aste and Bennani. After the race D’Aste was given a 30 second time penalty for the incident with Engstler.
RACE 2 – HUFF BEATS MENU AND TARQUINI
Rob Huff claimed a second victory for Chevrolet in the Brazilian weekend, but he had to fight hard to beat a raging Gabriele Tarquini who had managed to jump in the lead, keeping the Chevrolet guys at bay for a few laps.
Eventually Tarquini was forced to give up also the second place to Alain Menu, but he managed to salvage the last step of the podium ahead of Yvan Muller.
Norbert Michelisz won the Yokohama Trophy race finishing in fifth overall, but in the first part of the race the young Hungarian driver was able to stay in the lead, resisting a huge pressure from Tarquini.
Just like in the first race, the drivers fighting for the midfield positions delivered exciting battles. After finishing fifth in Race 1, Michel Nykjær claimed a sixth in the second race, beating Coronel, Bennani, Monteiro, Dudukalo and MacDowall.
TIME PENALTIES FOR ORIOLA, D’ASTE AND CHILTON
Stefano D’Aste, Tom Chilton and Pepe Oriola were all given a 30 second time penalty that affected their Race 1 results.
Both, Chilton and Oriola were penalized for speeding during the rolling start. This meant that the young Spaniard lost four precious points in the Yokohama Trophy, dropping five points behind Michelisz.
D’Aste was punished for causing an incident with Franz Engstler, while they were fighting for the 15th position.
THE GOVERNOR TESTS SEAT RACING CAR
Beto Richa, Governor of the State of Paraná and former Mayor of Curitiba, visited the WTCC paddock today and took this opportunity to take the wheel of a SEAT León racing car for a few laps.
The Governor, who is a good amateur racing driver commented: “It was very exciting, I really enjoyed this experience. It is a powerful car, well balanced and very nice to drive. I liked it a lot. I did not know it had so many qualities. In fact, I was very impressed by being able to handle it so easily. It is a quite competitive car.”
THE WORD TO THE WINNERS
Yvan Muller – Race 1 winner: “I’m pleased, because winning the first race from pole position was one of my goals for today. It was an important victory. From the outside it seemed to be a quite comfortable one, but I had to drive hundred per cent as Rob and Alain were pushing hard behind. In the championship I have a 17 point lead now, ahead of Rob, but we still have a long way to go and anything can happen. I will only be comfortable when I will be leading the championship on the last lap of the last race...”
Rob Huff – Race 2 winner: “It was really tough to beat Gabriele Tarquini. But I knew I had to try and overtake him if I wanted to keep my hopes alive in the championship fight. Gabriele was a fair player and did not make any hazardous manoeuvre when I made my move. And eventually he made me a favour by keeping Yvan behind. I’m very happy, I have recovered one point of my gap from Yvan and now we go to Sonoma, that is a new circuit for all of us. So, let’s wait and see.