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Muller vs. Huff: The Showdown

Macau, the final round of the 2011 FIA World Touring Car Championship and for Chevrolet, it will see one of their drivers crowned as the 2011 Champion.

Leading the way with a twenty point advantage is Yvan Muller, who heads to the famous street circuit looking to retain his title while his team-mate, Rob Huff, is looking to secure his maiden WTCC title.

Last time out in China saw Alain Menu and Yvan Muller share the victories while Rob Huff secured a double podium finish, while Colin Turkington took the Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC to a podium finish in the first race while Gabriele Tarquini took a hard fought podium in the second race – Tarquini had taken the lead off the line in the second race and this meant that Huff ended up briefly touching the barriers before rejoining.

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The end result was an extended advantage for Muller, as he made up for his race one disappointment – Huff had closed the gap to ten points after the first race at Tianma.

Which driver will come out on top after the final two races of the season? TCN previews the title contender’s chances.

  1. 1.  Yvan Muller – 400 Points, Eight Victories.

Frenchman Muller arrives at Macau with the advantage, having secured victory last time out at the Tianma circuit in China, a weekend which he recovered from a tough qualifying session to extend his advantage at the top of the Championship.

The two times WTCC Champion has spent the first part of the season playing catch up but a mid season turn of form – plus incident at Porto – seems to have turned the tide in his favour.

For Muller, the maths is simple for him to retain his crown – he if wins or outscores Huff by six points in the opening race, he will be Champion. Muller also has the advantage of having eight wins to Huff’s six.

One note of caution for Muller is the fact he has never won on the streets of Macau, whether it be in the SEAT or Chevrolet, and while he secured his first title at Macau in 2008, he lost out in 2007 and 2009; 2007 saw his engine give up with a single lap to go while leading, while the 2009 finale saw him arrive trailing to Gabriele Tarquini, who was his SEAT Sport team-mate at the time.

What a time it would be for Muller to break his Macau hoodoo and secure his third title with his first Macau race victory.

  1. 2.  Rob Huff – 380 Points, Six Victories.

Huff arrives in Macau looking to become the first Brit to win a WTCC title since the 2007 campaign, when Andy Priaulx secured the third of his WTCC crowns.

Macau is something of a good circuit for Huff – having been victorious there in each of the last three years and 2010 saw him secure a double podium finish, and third in the Championship, but equal on points with Tarquini who finished as the series runner up.

During the early part of the season – he was looking unstoppable… until the infamous Porto contact. He won that race but that was his last victory and over the following events, has seen his advantage eaten away until at Valencia, he was knocked off his perch as Championship leader.

Huff has to be within twenty four points of Muller if he is to take the Championship battle into the final race of the season – he has won fewer races than Muller and also has less second place finishes – Huff, however hasn’t retired from a race yet in 2011.

Huff also needs a miracle – and Macau, being a street circuit and with a famous casino could throw up any sort of scenarios – and nobody would bet against Huff quite yet.

Away from the Championship battle, Alain Menu in the third Chevrolet will be looking for a strong end to his Championship campaign and like Huff, has a good record of winning at Macau and could become the interloper for his two team-mates.

Another driver looking for a strong end to his campaign is Suzuka race winner Tom Coronel. Coronel is the top BMW driver this season and he can’t finish inside the top three, he is looking to finish best of the rest and he arrives in Macau with a twenty six point cushion over Tarquini, who is the top SUNRED driver.

The top five drivers have already been decided as sixth place Tiago Monteiro is unable to catch Tarquini but is under threat from the top Independent driver, Denmark’s Kristian Poulsen – seven points separate the two drivers.

Robert Dahlgren and the Polestar Racing team are still searching for their maiden podium in the series but they have shown impressive speed throughout the season and have the potential to finish on the podium.

A number of other drivers will be looking for a strong conclusion to their season – with bamboo engineering’s Darryl O’Young looking to finish his season on a high at his home race.

The season finale has seen a number of local drivers join the field – all in the Jay-Ten trophy, which has already been won by Fabio Fabiani. Fabiani hasn’t made the trip out to Macau.

For the first time since 2006, Peugeot will be on the grid as local team 778 Autosport enter a former Swedish Touring Car Championship Peugeot 308 while Corsa Motorsport enters a brace of Chevrolet Lacetti.

Wiechers-Sport have replaced Colin Turkington with Canadian Touring Car Championship racer Gary Kwok while the seventh SUNRED SR Leon 1.6T will be raced by Andre Couto, who is looking to follow in the footsteps of Jorg Muller by winning both the Macau F3 race and the Macau WTCC race.

Who will be crowned Champion at Macau, who will finish as the best of the non-Chevrolet drivers and will the circuit live up to its reputation of bringing incidents and surprises?

All these answers and many more will be resolved this weekend, with the action getting underway Thursday with a half hour test session.

Qualifying will be shown live on Eurosport from 07.30am Friday morning ahead of the final two rounds of the season, which are live on Eurosport from 3am.

TCN Predictions:

Pole Position: Rob Huff
Race 1:
1. Rob Huff, 2.Yvan Muller, 3. Alain Menu
Race 2: Norbert Michelisz, 2. Rob Huff, 3. Gabriele Tarquini

Champion: Yvan Muller

Macau Schedule – All Times BST.

Thursday, 17 November:
05.50 – 06.20

Friday, 18 November:
Practice 1:
00.30 – 01.00
Practice 2: 04.15 – 04.45
Qualifying 1: 07.25 – 07.55*
Qualifying 2: 08.00 – 08.15*

Sunday, 20 November
Warm Up:
00.15 – 00.30*
Race 1: 03.10 – 03.35 (9 Laps)*
Race 2: 04.30 – 05.00 (9Laps)*

* – Live on Eurosport.

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