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Chevrolet aim for Manufacturer title in Spain

Chevrolet head to the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Spain this weekend knowing that they could potentially secure the Manufacturer’s World Touring Car title.

The team have dominated proceedings during the 2011 season, taking all bar two wins. With a lead of currently 267 points over nearest rivals BMW Customer Racing, the title seems all but inevitable.

The team have also taken the opportunity to change the engines on all three Chevrolet Cruze’s – the only time that such a change is allowed this season.

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“The new FIA rules allow only one engine change this season, after the eighth event,” explained Arnaud Martin, Chevrolet’s Chief Engine Engineer. “This moment is now and we have opted for using the engine change possibility not because the engines were tired, on the contrary they are probably performing better now than at the beginning of the season, but because we wanted to be able to look into them, check the engine wear and gather useful information for next season, when no engine changes will be allowed and each engine will need to have a life cycle of 5000 kms,  the average distance of a full season.”

Less certain is the battle in the driver’s championship – with Chevrolet team-mates Rob Huff and Yvan Muller seperated by just 6 points at the top of the table.

“I’m anxious to be at the wheel again of the Cruze after four weeks,” said current championship leader Huff. “Any race is now key with regard to the championship and I am looking forward to be in the battle again!

“I certainly enjoy Valencia and we had some good results there in the past, although it’s not an easy track for front wheel drive cars and the surface is very abrasive. The key will be to find a good set up for the races.

For Muller the return to racing comes after a busy month during which the Frenchman competed in a 24-hour bicycle race around Le Mans. However Muller remains focused on his main goal – taking a third World Touring Car title.

“Now, the focus is back onto the WTCC and the battle for the title, for which I am more determined than ever,” said Muller. “Valencia is a great circuit, especially for spectators, who can see the entire lap from any of the grandstands. I like it, although it is always challenging, especially for front wheel drive cars, as front tyres are under extraordinary constraints, especially with warm weather, which is often the case there at this time of the year.”

Alain Menu is currently 69 points – almost the number of points awarded for 3 wins – behind team-mate Huff in third in the standings. However the Swiss driver is not counting himself out of the title race yet.

“If I want to keep some chances for the title, I have to be in front of my two team mates and try to win at least one of the races,” said Menu. “I really like the circuit, which is quite technical and one where if you want to be quick, you have to really attack and drive as clean as possible at the same time.”

Chevrolet WTCC PRoject Manager Ron Hartvelt highlighted how the team have been busy even during the championship’s ‘summer break’ – with testing taking place at several locations and preparations being made for the final three flyaway races of the season.

“We tested at Rockingham and Pembrey, mainly to check a few up dates in view of the future, and achieved a lot of logistics work ahead of the Asian tour,” admitted Hartvelt. “With the cars leaving for Asia soon after Valencia and three races over there, there was a lot of planning and preparation to do.

“We are shaking down the cars this Friday at Sywell with the three drivers, and then off to Valencia, where the key challenge will be to preserve the front tyres. We are staying over after the races on Sunday and will be testing on Monday,Tuesday and Wednesday.”

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