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Yvan Muller celebrates third crown

Yvan Muller secured his third FIA World Touring Car Championship crown of his career and second with Chevrolet after coming out on top of a closely fought battle with his Chevrolet team-mate, Rob Huff.

Huff did all he could to deny his French team-mate a third crown as he secured victories in both the races – meaning he became the first double winner at Macau – but ultimately would up three points short as Muller secured a second and third place finishes.

The double Macau success saw the team finish with twenty one victories from twenty four races and twelve Pole Positions from twelve events – a season of records for the team, who debuted their 1.6 litre, turbocharged Chevrolet Cruze in September 2010.

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Eric Neve is pleased that the Macau weekend provided a fitting conclusion to a highly successful season: “We could not have wished a more exciting and wonderful conclusion to this exceptional season. Yvan and Rob both deserved the title, but you can have only one winner. What really pleases me is that they have given us a tremendous show and they have honored the sports by fighting fiercely and fairly. I also want to congratulate the entire team for their professionalism and for being able to prepare the cars perfectly, so that no mechanical issue would interfere in the title’s battle.”

Alain Menu in the third Chevrolet Cruze also played his part in the teams’ successes of 2011 – his season finished on a low note after being the innocent party in a first corner accident which ended his weekend – and as he admitted, it wasn’t the dream result to end the season on: “Obviously, not the end of the season I had dreamt of. I took a good start in Race 1, passing a couple of cars. I knew the track was quite dirty at the Mandarin bent and tried to avoid trouble. Unfortunately, Couto was touched by another car and pushed me to the outside and then hit me twice when he lost control of his car. That was the end of it as the car was quite damaged and there was not enough time in-between the races to repair it. This meant I could see both races from the pit wall and I congratulate both Yvan and Rob for their great season.”

Race one, round twenty three of the season saw a stressful start after the race start was delayed by a lap before two Safety Car periods – one of which was for Menu’s weekend ending incident.

Huff made a good start and restarts to hold his advantage and despite the pressure from Muller, if refused to concede the position and secured his seventh win of the season ahead of Muller and Gabriele Tarquini.

The final race of the season saw Huff start from third and Muller eighth – it took Huff three laps to move into the lead of the race and after the Safety Car period, he stormed to his fifth Macau win, his eighth win of 2011 and crowned himself the first Macau double winner.

Huff is disappointed to have missed out on the title but plans to come back in 2012 a stronger driver: “It is a very emotional moment, of course. I did everything I could to defend my chances, but it wasn’t enough. I am both disappointed to miss the objective by such a small margin and very happy of my two wins here and of my season. I finish the championship with the same number of wins and poles as Yvan and I think I have showed great consistency throughout the season, finishing all races in the points. Yvan has pushed me to the limit at all times, and here again in Race 1 and that has made me a much better driver. I congratulate Yvan, who has proved once again why he is one of the very greats of touring car racing. I want to stress the great job that the team has done and also the excellent relations we have with Yvan and Alain. Next year, we’ll be back and I already look forward to it …”

Muller, who lined up five places behind Huff, worked his way up the order and he was up to fourth and in a Championship winning position – he then confirmed it with another podium position, taking third away from Michel Nykjaer at Lisboa.

“It’s just fantastic to be Champion again, especially after such a stressful week end here in Macau,” said the newly crowned Champion. “It has been an incredible season, which started not very well for me. By mid-season, things became much better, thanks to the great work done with my engineer,Chris Cronin, and the whole team. This allowed me to progress step by step and then this thrilling finale…I knew Rob could win both races here, as he did, and that I could not take any risk. The championship could have gone either way, and I am sure Rob will win it soon. It’s a fantastic day for the entire team, and I really feel an intense and deep satisfaction.”

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