Chevrolet confident as WTCC ...


For the first time this season, the World Touring Car Championship will visit a race track not yet seen on the WTCC tour so far. Next weekend, the Chevrolet WTCC team will face the competition on the Portuguese track of Estoril, near the beach resort by the same name. It is not the first time the WTCC visits Portugal, as already last year the closest FIA competition in the world visited the Porto street course, where Chevrolet scored its first 1-2-3-finish. But for logistic reasons the Porto race can only be organized every two years, so the Race of Portugal alternates between the home of the port wine and the former home of the F1 Grand Prix in this important southern European market.

The Chevrolet team and drivers of course hope to continue the trend they started last year, when the blue cars won at every new venue. The authors of two wins and four more podium finishes so far this year, Nicola Larini, Rob Huff and Alain Menu are keen to keep the momentum going as well as to keep Chevrolet’s tradition intact. The times set at last week’s test in Monza, where Menu was just a few thousandths of a second slower than the fastest car, clearly indicate that the three Chevrolet Lacettis are amongst the race favourites in Portugal, especially considering two of the cars are running very little ballast.

• QUOTESRob Huff: “I’m very much looking forward to going to Estoril. It’s a fantastic track, with lots of history to it, and I hope that by the end of the weekend I will have added some history to it on behalf of Chevrolet. The track is quite unique in that it doesn’t really compare to any other circuit. It’s not easy, with lots of everything, we have already tested there in winter so it won’t be completely new to us. During the test our Chevrolet Lacetti seemed to suit the track. With only 27 kilos of success ballast I will be one of the lightest cars around, and with the number of heavy cars on the grid increasing by the race we could spring a very good result there. Of course, I’m gutted by the fact hat I’ve lost six points in Brno, but I’m confident that I can win those back in Portugal and even bring home some more. We’re now in sixth but I hope we can leave Estoril in fourth in the standings.”

Alain Menu: “Like Rob and Nic I’m looking forward to Estoril very much. We’ve just had a very good official group test at Monza, where we once again confirmed that we’re right on the ball. I’ll be the heaviest of the three Chevrolets in Portugal, but I’ll still be carrying a lot less weight than some of the other frontrunners. At the last race in Brno, the track favored the rear-wheel drive cars and the diesel cars. I still managed a podium finish, so I’m quite optimistic for next weekend’s races. There’s no reason why all three of us shouldn’t be fighting for at least a podium finish or two.”

Nicola Larini: “Brno was such a difficult week-end for me I hope that I have spent there the entire allocation of bad luck for the year! On a more serious note, I really look forward to Estoril,a track that should suit the Lacettis well. In terms of success ballast, I will be lighter than most of our main competitors and I intend to make a good use of this opportunity. Following the understeer problems my usual race car suffered in Valencia and Brno, the team has decided to have it completely checked. This means that in Portugal I will drive the spare car, this is the car I drove in Monza last week and is absolutely identical to the race cars. We tested in Estoril twice during the winter, in December on a dry track and in February in wet conditions. Although it was a different season and the car we used then did not have the full 2008 developments, the information and the parameters gathered at that time will be very useful for setting up the cars next week-end. I only have good memories of Estoril: the last time I raced there, in 2003, I was the fastest in practice and in the race, so I hope I can be in the same kind of pace. For the rest, I think that if the current heat wave in Southern Europe continues, we are all going to have an additional rival to beat...”

Eric Nève: “We had an extremely successful weekend in Portugal last year, and we’re looking forward to repeat the exercise. Rob and Nicola are the lightest of the front-running cars so race wins are definitely on the cards. From a marketing point of view going to the south of Europe is always a pleasure as the southern countries are important markets for Chevrolet and thus our motorsports achievements blend in with the overall strategies. Add to that the fact that we’re racing by one of the nicest seaside resorts in the country and the fact that the Portuguese are just motorsports mad and you know we will be having one great weekend.”

ESTROIL RACE SCHEDULE (Local time = CET minus 1 hour)

Friday, 11th July 200815.00-15.30 (16.00-16.30 CET) TestingSaturday, 12th July 200808.30-09.00 (09.30-10.00 CET) Free Practice 111.00-11.30 (12.00-12.30 CET) Free Practice 215.00-15.30 (16.00-16.30 CET) QualifyingSunday, 13th July 200809.30-09.45 (10.30-10-45 CET) Warm up13.20-13.45 (14.20-14.45 CET) Race 1 (12 laps = 50.184kms) (Rolling start)17.20-17.45 (18.20-18.45 CET) Race 2 (12 laps = 50.184kms) (Standing start)

DRIVERS POINTS STANDINGS AFTER RACE 10 OF 241. G Tarquini (SEAT), 58 points; 2. Y Muller (SEAT), 43; 3. R Rydell (SEAT), 37; 4. A Priaulx (BMW), 34; 5. J Gené (SEAT), 30; 6. R Huff (Chevrolet), 27;… 9. A Menu (Chevrolet), 23;… 11. N Larini (Chevrolet), 19;…

MANUFACTURERS POINTS STANDINGS AFTER RACE 10 OF 241. SEAT, 138 points; 2. BMW, 117; 3. Chevrolet, 95; 4. Honda, 19.

SUCCESS BALLAST FOR ESTORIL1. G Tarquini (SEAT), 70kgs; 2. A Zanardi (BMW), 48kgs; 3. F Porteiro (BMW), 47kgs; 4. Y Muller (SEAT), 43kgs; 5. A Farfus (BMW), 42kgs; 6. R Rydell (SEAT), 37kgs; 7. A Priaulx (BMW), 34kgs; 8. A Menu (Chevrolet), 33kgs; 9. J Müller (BMW), 31kgs; 10. J Gené (SEAT), 30kgs; 11. T Boardman (BMW), 30kgs; 12. K Poulsen (BMW), 30kgs; 13. A Lvov (Honda), 30kgs; 14. A Smetsky (Honda), 30kgs; 15. R Huff (Chevrolet), 27kgs; 16. N Larini (Chevrolet), 19kgs; 17. T Monteiro (SEAT), 12kgs; 18. T Coronel (SEAT), 10kgs; 19. J Thompson (Honda), 3kgs; 20. O Tielemans (BMW), 1kg.

ESTORIL WTCC ON TVIn Europe, the races will be broadcasted live on Eurosport International.