Chevrolet driver Yvan Muller claimed his sixth victory of the season in Portimão Portugal.
The Chevrolet driver pulled off a wonderful overtake on Seat driver Gabriele Tarquini at the first corner and maintain a gap to enable to save tyres and take his sixth win of the season, with championship rival and team mate Rob Huff finishing third.
Yvan somewhat caught Gabriele Tarquini off guard, as later the Seat driver said he didn’t expect Yvan to attempt such a move round the outside at turn 1, Yvan then went on to maintain a 2 sec gap to the Seat driver for the rest of the race. Portimão is notoriously hard on tyres and all drivers had to back off towards the end of the race, with lap times creeping up by 3secs really enthusing this trend in tyre saving.
Rob Huff teammate to Yvan in the other works Chevrolet also managed a quick get away and took Norbert Michelisz in his BMW at the rolling start. This helped minimise damage in the championship from Yvan’s win, which sees the frenchman extend his lead to 10 points over huff.
After a cautious start Alain Menu racing as Michel Vaillant for this weekend only managed to fight from 9th up to fifth. Some of you will be familiar with Michel Vaillant the famous comic book racing driver created by Belgian Jean Graton in 1957.
Privateer Alex Macdowall in his Bamboo Engineering Chevrolet had an indifferent race. Alex was battling hard with Seat driver Tiago Monteiro early on, which eventually resulted in the Seat driver having a moment on lap 5, but still hold his position. In the later stages of the race though Alex slipped to tenth when Alberto Cerqui passed in his quicker BMW, with Pepe Oriola seizing the moment to follow the BMW driver through passed Macdowall.
Yvan Muller – Race 1 winner: “Any victory is important, but the season is still very long. I was very focused on taking a good start. I had tried that manoeuvre in the warm up this morning and I knew it was possible. Fortunately I was able to pass Gabriele at the first turn and then I had to drive as best as I could and look after my front left tyre. We have done a great job by improving the race set up during this morning warm up. I have pushed in the first lap to create a gap, but for the rest of the race my pace was the same as Gabriele’s and Rob’s.”
Race 2 Menu takes a dominant race 2 win
Alain Menu took the second race of the day at Portimão, after passing the pole sitting Pepe Oriola in his Seat Leon at the first corner and go on to seal his third victory in WTCC this season. Team mates Rob Huff and Yvan Muller had to fight hard through the field to finish fourth, and fifth respectively
Menu got the jump on the Seat driver at the start going into turn 1 , from there he was able to pull out a comfortable lead and was able to ease the Chevrolet in Michel Vaillant guise through to the finish, with little drama to seal his third win this season
Team mates Rob Huff and Yvan Muller found the going a lot tougher to that of Menu. After Michelisz in his BMW had an off track moment the two Chevrolet drivers were able to pass and were soon onto the boot of Tiago Monteiro’s Seat Leon. Despite best efforts from the Seat driver he could do little to keep the flying Chevrolet’s behind and the portuguese driver was soon dispatched. This was soon followed by both drivers taking Alberto Cerqui in his BMW for 5th and 6th, allowing both drivers to fight for 4th place with Seat’s tough campaigner Gabrielle Tarquini.
Yvan made his move at turn 1 again, with the same move he had pulled on the italian in the first race, this time however Tarquini was wise to this , but took the kerb to severely resulting in his Seat ending yup on two wheels , and Muller passing the italian to take the position. Rob Huff seeing his opportunity to also pass the Italian tried to follow Muller through, but clipped the back of the Seat and pushed Tarquini into Muller which saw the italian’s Seat spin, and saw Muller loose momentum as a result of the contact, which allowed Huff to take his team mate as well.
The BMW of Alberto Cerqui was able to pass both Chevrolet’s as result of the incident but Huff and Muller were able to fight back to re-take 4th and 5th, with now fading grip from strained tyres. Alberto Cerqui made it difficult for Muller by defending his place right up the pit wall at the start finish line, but this didn’t stop Yvan re-taking the position at turn 2.
Alain Menu – Race 2 winner: “It was great to win in the shoes of Michel Vaillant. It was the icing in the cake for this weekend dedicated to our comic book hero. But obviously I am also happy for Chevrolet and for… Alain Menu! This victory keeps my hopes to fight for the world title alive. I took a very good start and then I pushed hard in the first laps because I wanted to create a gap, as I expected Rob and Yvan to recover in the second half of the race. We had changed the set up after the first race, as I was not happy with it. The car was much better.”
Muller now extends his lead to 18 points over huff in the championship with Menu another 35 points behind, but still leaves a Chevrolet lock out of the top three places in the driver championship and Manufacturers championship.
WTCC takes a seven week break before resuming in South America in Brazil on July 22nd.
- 1. Yvan MULLER 245 pt.
- 2. Rob HUFF 227 pt.
- 3. Alain MENU 208 pt.
- 4. Tom CORONEL 142 pt.
- 5. Gabriele TARQUINI 134 pt.
- 6. Pepe ORIOLA 107 pt.
- 7. Norbert MICHELISZ 106 pt.
- 8. Stefano D’ASTE 84 pt.
- 9. Tiago MONTEIRO 45 pt.
- 1. Chevrolet 578 pt.
- 2. BMW Customer Racing Teams 389 pt.
- 3. SEAT Customer Technology 370 pt.