Having converted pole position into victory in the opening race at Suzuka and followed it up with a fourth in the second race, Swiss driver Alain Menu admitted he was pleased with the result which still leaves him in championship contention.
In the opening race Menu initially lost the lead at the opening corner, admitting to having been too cautious, allowing title rival Yvan Muller to pass. However at the end of a lengthy safety car period to clean up the debris from a first corner incident Menu was able to get a strong run onto the start straight and pass Muller on the way into turn one.
Menu thereafter led the race unchallenged to take a 3.1 second win from Rob Huff, as Muller slipped down the order.
“[It was] a very good weekend for me and I am very happy with the pace I got throughout it,” said Menu after the day’s racing. “Ahead of Race 1, we had agreed with Yvan not to attack each other at the start and he took the advantage, as I maybe was a little bit too cautious. After the safety car period, I could pass him again and then it was just a matter of saving the tires, controlling things and not opening the door to Huff.”
Having started from seventh in the second race Menu was able to work his way up to fourth by the end as several drivers ahead were involved in incidents. A good battle with Volvo driver Robert Dahlgren saw Menu emerge on top to just miss out on a podium and finish as the third of the four works Chevrolet drivers.
“I had a good start but was blocked at the first corner and then there was little I could do, as overtaking is almost impossible here, but at least I could keep Dahlgren behind me,” added Menu.
Menu’s performances in Japan have seen him close the championship gap to leader Muller by seven points – but with the gap currently at 73 points even the former two-time British Touring Car Champion knows that it is unlikely he will remain in contention for much longer.
Commenting on his title chances, Menu concluded: “I am still in the race for the championship, but it is going to be very tough, as both Yvan and scored heavy points today!”