THE CRUZE STARTS IN JAPAN ITS FIRST ASIAN TOUR While the WTCC Prepares For Okayama, Five Chevys Will Fight For The ETCC Title In Portugal WELLINGBOROUGH / ZURICH, 23rd October 2009 The 2009 World Touring Car Championship is entering in its ...
THE CRUZE STARTS IN JAPAN ITS FIRST ASIAN TOUR
While the WTCC Prepares For Okayama, Five Chevys Will Fight For The ETCC Title In Portugal
WELLINGBOROUGH / ZURICH, 23rd October 2009 The 2009 World Touring Car Championship is entering in its final laps, as the teams, cars and drivers head to Japan for the first of the two Asian rounds that will conclude the season. This will be the second year that the WTCC visits Japan, where the fans gave a large warm welcome to the series in 2008. The Okayama International Circuit, nested in a hilly and remote region in the Honshu island and home of the former F1 Pacific Grand Prix, will host the event again, which also includes the Asian Le Mans Series.
Once more, the Chevrolet Cruze will find itself in "unknown territory", as this will be the first time the new car will be racing at the Japanese track, a situation that the team has learnt how to handle throughout the 2009 season. Still, Okayama is not an easy track and changing weather conditions may play a crucial role there, as occurred last year. The team has been making good use of the four weeks after the last European event and has conducted test sessions in Algarve, Pembrey and Jerez to further work on the Cruze's balance and set-ups.
It is a busy time in the touring car scene, as while the WTCC head to Japan, some of the best teams and drivers of the various S2000 national championships will fight this week end for the ETCC crown. This time, the traditional 2-race ETCC grande-finale, will take place in Portugal, on the Braga circuit, in the north of the country. Chevrolet Denmark driver Michel Nykjær will defend his title at the wheel of his Chevrolet Lacetti, a few weeks after conquering the Danish DTC title. The driver of Perfection Racing will lead a Chevrolet squad that includes four other Lacettis: BTCC driver Harry Vaulkhard and young Portuguese Felix Duarte da Costa will drive the cars of Bamboo Engineering, while former ADAC-Procar champion Vincent Radermecker, from Belgium, and another Lusitanian driver, Jose Monroy, will be at the wheel of Maurer Motorsport's cars.
Rob Huff: "Monday and Tuesday of this week, I've been testing at Jerez, as part of the development program established for the Cruze. It was a fruitful two-days session, in perfect conditions. We completed around 500 km and worked on the set-up, and the rear end suspension of the car. This coming week-end I'll fly to Japan and before going to Okayama we'll spend a couple of days visiting Tokyo with Alain and Nicola."
Alain Menu: "It is quite difficult to make any prediction about Okayama, as we have never been there with the Cruze. Okayama is quite a special place, different from any other, and a challenging track, very technical. The first part is pretty fast but the key section is the second one, which has slow corners, where you can lose a lot of time. Finding the right balance is not easy, also because at this time of the year, you can be sure of having rain at some point". ./.. Nicola Larini: "After a month without racing, I am really eager to be behind the wheel again. There are many unknown variables linked with Okayama, but it's a circuit I like and I go there with the same spirit as ever and confident that we can achieve some good result. My objective for these last four races of the year is to obtain at least one win, to compensate all the bad luck had during the season".
Mark Busfield: "For any team in the WTCC, Okayama is synonymous of logistical challenges. The cars have been traveling in sea freight containers just after the Imola race to start the long journey to Japan, and as we speak, they should be travelling by land to Okayama. Our team personnel, about 20 people, will be flying this week-end, in order to be able to rebuild and prepare the cars. The drivers and the remaining team members will arrive by mid-week. On site, like last year, we will be assisted by local staff, who will help us with the logistics and in the case we need machining or paint work, which we hope won't be necessary. Then, for Macau, it will be same plan all over again".
Eric Nève: "Although it is a long journey from Europe, it is always a pleasure to be in Japan, and to see how popular motor racing is there. The WTCC was given a very warm welcome last year in Okayama and I am sure it will be the same this time round. Our objective is to score as many points as possible there, and take all the opportunities the two races may offer".
OKAYAMA WTCC ON TV
In Europe, qualifying, warm up and the races are be broadcasted live on Eurosport International.
CHEVROLET RACING AROUND THE GLOBE
In Denmark, Michel Nykjær took his second Danish Touring Car title at the wheel of the Chevrolet Lacetti of Perfection Racing, after an exciting final round at Jyllandsringen, where no less than five drivers arrived with options for the title. A win and a fourth place gave Nykjær the overall success, while Henrik Lundgaard had an unlucky week-end, finishing fourth in the final standings. Chevrolet Denmark also took the Team title.
In the UK, Jason Plato became BTCC vice-champion thanks to a stunning hat-trick in the last event in Brands Hatch, where he won all the three races, falling a mere 5-points short from the title. Mat Jackson, on the other RML Lacetti, finished 5th in the championship, with Harry Vaulkhard 16th.
In Germany too, there was a sweet end to the ADAC Procar series for Chevrolet, as Andrei Romanov took a win in the final racing week-end in Oschersleben. The Russian finished 6th in the overall standings, with the other two occasional drivers of Maurer Motorsport ranking 8th (Vincent Radermecker) and 10th (Michael Ruh). More info on www.adac-procar.de.
In Sweden as well, the Swedish Touring Car Championship (STCC) is over, with Chevrolet drivers Pontus Morth and Thomas Schie finishing 11th and 14th in the standings, respectively.
In Argentina, with still three races to the end of the TC200, Chevrolet Elaion Vectra drivers Guillermo Ortelli and Christian Ledesma lie 8th and 11th, respectively, in the championship.
In the US, racing activity is still intense in the NASCAR and Chevy domination stronger than ever. The last five events were won by Chevrolet drivers, and the last race in Fontana saw Johnson, Gordon, Montoya, Martin and Stewart signing a superb `top five" for the bow-tie. With his recent three wins, Jimmy Johnson has now taken the lead of the overall standings, followed by three other Chevy drivers: Martin, Gordon and Stewart.