The weekend started with a difficult qualifying session for the RML run Chevrolet team, which saw them qualify 6th, 7th and 9th respectively, With Yvan Muller the quickest of the three Chevrolet’s. Warm Weather and a very technical track were the most likely cause of tyre wear issues making it difficult for the guys to manage their hot laps.
Not a good start to Race 1 for Chevrolet’s Rob Huff when he became involved in a incident with Seat driver Tiago Monteiro and the Ford of James Nash, dropping Huff down the order and eventually forced him into the pits to have repairs carried out on his suspension and finish 17th.
It was widely tipped that BMW would be tough to beat round this technical tyre shredding track, and so it was the BMW of Norbert Michelisz that started the race from pole. Although it didn’t work out this way, with the Seat’s of Gabriele Tarquini and Aleksei Dudukalo both able to pass the BMW of Michelisz , although controversially this was due to a cheeky tap from Tarquini leaving the BMW trailing behind the two Seat’s and open to attack from Chevrolet’s Yvan Muller. Yvan pushed hard to pass Michelisz’s BMW and on lap 13 he managed to pass the BMW driver although this was judged to be an illegal move as Muller tapped the BMW driver into a spin. Later Muller was punished for this move by being awarded a drive through penalty which saw him eventually recover to 11th. After the event had finished however he was later promoted to 10th as a result of a penalty for BMW driver Tom Coronel.
Alain Menu in the other Chevrolet Cruze had a more successful first race eventually finishing Third on the podium after the Seat of Pepe Oriola developed a puncture and dropped back. This meant Alain Menu was the only Chevrolet to score points in the first race.
The other Privately Run Bamboo Racing Chevrolet Cruzes of Alex Macdowall and Pasquale di Sabatino finished 13th and 14th respectively, with Pasquale learning the touring car trade every race and improving. Alex was unlucky but is pushing hard to make an impact on the world stage, after starring in the British Touring car Championship for Chevrolet and RML.
Race two saw Alain Menu start second on the reverse grid, so a more promising race for Chevrolet looked on the cards and we got the reward. Huff in his Chevrolet managed to get the jump on Menu from fourth place and slot in behind pole sitter Stefano D’Aste. D’aste ran wide on turn 2, allowing all three Chevrolet’s to pass him with Rob huff leading the pack. Alain Menu was passed for third by Seat’s Gabriele Tarquini on lap 3, but on the following lap had to retire with a front left puncture.
Huffy initially came under tremendous pressure from his team mate Muller for the lead, then Yvan himself came under pressure from the Seat of Gabriele Tarquini, this gave Huff some breathing space at the front. Finger nail biting moment came on the final lap when Tarquini hit Muller’s Chevy sending into a 90 degree slide, the Frenchman managed to pull it back and the defending champion held of the Seat to claim second place.
Rob Huff Said “I think we had some unluckiness in the first part of the season and we had more bad luck in the first race today when I got fired off, but that’s racing. The team did the most amazing job to get the car back and straight in time for Race 2, since both the rear wheels were pointing in opposite directions, and I think we got out of the pit lane with 30 seconds to spare. In the second race, I had the best start I think I’ve ever had and I got past D’Aste in Turn 2 since I could see he was a bit loose there. After that, it was a case of watching my mirrors into every corner since I didn’t know where Yvan would be strong around the circuit. The last two laps were very hard work, but our Italian friend here helped me out by slowing Yvan down on the last lap!”
The private Bamboo engineering Chevrolet’s of Alex Macdowall and Pasquale di Sabatino had mixed fortunes in the race two. Alex had to retire with electrical gremlins. But a positive for Pasquale di Sabatino he classified 12th meaning he kept it clean and yet more miles under his belt in a touring car.
Championship Standings After Rounds 7,8 Slovakia
- 1. Yvan MULLER 149 pt.
- 2. Rob HUFF 122 pt.
- 3. Alain MENU 121 pt.
- 4. Tom CORONEL 89 pt.
- 5. Gabriele TARQUINI 87 pt.
- 6. Stefano D’ASTE 55 pt.
- 7. Pepe ORIOLA 53 pt.
- 8. Norbert MICHELISZ 47 pt.
- 9. Franz ENGSTLER 34 pt.
- 10. Aleksei DUDUKALO 22 pt.
Manufacturer Standings after Rounds 7,8 Slovakia
- 1. Chevrolet 337 pt.
- 2. SEAT Customer Technology 219 pt.
- 3. BMW Customer Racing Teams 208 pt.