Chevrolet signed off the European leg of the 2012 FIA World Touring Car Championship with a double victory around the Portuguese circuit of Portimao.
Yvan Muller secured his sixth victory of the season in round 13 while Menu, running under the name Michel Vaillant for the weekend secured his third win of 2012 in round 14. Rob Huff secured a podium finish in his 200th touring car race.
Reigning Champion Muller started the 13th round of the season second on the grid but took the lead right at the start, going round the outside of Pole man Gabriele Tarquini at turn one.
Muller then resisted the pressure from Tarquini and Huff for the rest of the race to bring the #1 car home first, and he backed up his win with a fighting fifth place in round 14.
“I extended the lead in the championship,” explained the Frenchman. “Race 1 may have looked like a walk in the park, but it wasn’t. I focused on the start and managed to pass Tarquini and take the lead at the first corner, but Gabriele andRobnever relented and kept the pressure on throughout the race.
“My objective was to keep the race under control without pressing too much to avoid any trouble with the tires. We worked on the car after qualifying and I knew the car would perform on tack.
“Race 2 was quite hectic with many fights. I overtook Tarquini when he made a mistake in turn 1, but then he pushed back and I lost my position in favor of Rob. It’s a pity because 4th place was nearly assured, but that’s racing,” concluded Muller.
Menu concluded the European leg of the season with his third win of the season in round 14, and securing a victory for the legend of Vaillant. Having lined the Vaillant liveried Cruze second on the grid, he got ahead of the pole position driver off the line and stormed away in the early laps before backing the pace off as the race got to its conclusion.
He had brought home the #8 Chevrolet Cruze home fifth in the first race having started ninth on the grid.
“This has been a great weekend! Playing Michel Vaillant has been exciting, but Alain Menu is also very happy with so many points. Race 1 was frustrating. I had balance problems in tight corners and felt I was lacking on power. Towards the end of the race, I had vibration issues with the car.
“We carried out some changes in between races and everything worked perfectly. Race 2 was a dream; I start perfectly and pushed for three laps, which was enough to build a sufficient gap to take me all the way to the finish line.”
For Huff, third and fourth in Portugal means that he has lost ground in the title battle as he leaves Europe 18 points behind Muller, having arrived eight points adrift of Muller.
“I can’t say this was the best weekend I’ve had, but I survived it,” summed up the British driver. “In Race 1, the car felt good and I pushed hard to try to overtake Tarquini and Yvan, but there was never an opportunity to overtake either of them despite reducing the gap substantially.
“Race 2 was full of up and downs and reasonably crazy. Some drivers were quite aggressive and doing strange things in the mid field. It was exciting racing, though.”
Curitiba in Brazil plays host to rounds 15 and 16 of the 2012 World Touring Car Championship in seven weeks time, over the 20 – 22 July.