Asian tour starts and so does the final title battle among the Cruze drivers!Japanese hero Toshi Arai at the wheel of a fourth Cruze at Suzuka
The WTCC is heading towards the final and decisive stint of the 2011 season, as teams and drivers travel to Asia for the three last events in Japan, China and Macau. The Race of Japan, the first stop in this Asian tour, moves this year to the well known Suzuka Circuit, although the WTCC will be racing on the short (2.2 km) track known as “Eastern track” and not on the GP course.
For the occasion, Chevrolet has prepared a present for the Japanese fans, as a fourth Cruze will be entered for local rally legend Toshi Arai, who had the opportunity to test with the team at the end of September in Pembrey, in the UK.
Logically, all the attention will be focusing on the battle for the Driver’s title, which involves… the three Chevrolet drivers. Yvan Muller has now taken the lead in the overall standings,but Rob Huff is only 16 points behind (with a maximum of 150 still to be awarded) andnothing is done. Alain Menu, is a further 64 points behind, and in the role of the outsider. Anexciting battle and some great racing is to be expected, as the three drivers will be free todefend their chances and the only order given by the team is to fight fair and not to hurt theinterests of the Chevrolet team…
• QUOTESYvan Muller: “It’s always exciting to go to a new circuit, especially when it has thereputation that Suzuka has. I am anxious to be there and to be again at the wheel of theCruze. I haven’t been driving on a track since the test in Valencia right after the WTCC race,but I have been rallying instead, as I took part in the WRC Rally of France. Unfortunately,we had a mechanical problem on day 1, spent day 2 bringing the car up to the right pace,and were in a position to do well only in the final day, but I am happy with my performance.Suzuka will be new for almost everybody and nobody has data, as we haven’t raced therebefore, so I think we’ll all be on an equal footing. As everybody else, I guess, I am preparingmyself watching track footage on Youtube, although reality will be, of course, very different.The championship battle? I am not thinking much about that, really, my objective is to workwell and do the best I can, as always.”
Rob Huff: “I am very excited about being again in a driver seat, especially after a number ofweeks of inactivity, where I have been mostly busy with PR activities linked to the ChevroletCentennial and our win in the Manufacturers’ Championship. Clearly, the aim at Suzuka, willbe to put my title bid back on track, but it’s still a long way to Macau…Suzuka will be difficult,especially because we are racing on the short circuit, which seems quite hard, but there isno reason not to be competitive there as well. In fact, the Cruze has always performed verywell, and won, on every new circuit…”
Alain Menu: “It’s a long time I have been wanting to race at Suzuka and despite my longcareer, I never had the opportunity. Now is the time, at last, and I am anxious to check ifeverything they say about Suzuka is true. Of course, we are racing on the 2.2 km circuit, but./..it still retains all the initial section and corners of the GP track. I think that, given our level ofcompetitiveness this year, we’ll be OK. I’ll try my best to stay in the race for the title, it’s notgoing to be easy, but I won’t give up as long as the mathematics give me a chance.”Toshi Arai: “I am excited and anxious at the same time, as this will be my debut in theWTCC and at the highest level in touring car racing, but determined to do well and help theteam. I liked the Cruze very much when I tested it end of September in the UK and I amconfident I will adjust quickly.”
Ron Hartvelt: “With the cars in containers, as they travel to Asia, recent weeks have beenquieter than usual, but work never stops for the RML team, as we are already activelypreparing for 2012. We actually kept the fourth car in Europe and tested in Valencia theMonday and the Tuesday after the race, then we also tested at Pembrey, it was mostlysome reliability items and updates for 2012. The fourth car has now been flown to Japanand this is the car that Toshi will be driving. Obviously, Suzuka is a new track for all teams,and we can predict that racing on the 2.2 km circuit will mean a lot of cornering, hence notmany overtaking points. This makes qualifying even more crucial. I also understand that thesurface is quite abrasive, so it will be hard on tires. No doubt that, with the Drivers’ title battlestill open, we are heading for three exciting events in Asia!”
Eric Nève: “Japan is a strategic automotive market and we are happy to see a growinginterest for the WTCC. The fact that the event has been moved to a popular track such asSuzuka, proves it. I am sure that having with us in the fourth Cruze a real local star such asToshi Arai, will be extremely beneficial for the both WTCC and for Chevrolet.”
SUZUKA RACE SCHEDULE (Local time = CET +7 hours)Friday, 21st October 201114.00-14.30 (07.00-07.30 CET) Testing
Saturday, 22nd October 201109.30-10.00 (02.30-03.00 CET) Free Practice 111.45-12.15 (04.45-05.15 CET) Free Practice 215.30-15.50 (08.30-08.50 CET) Qualifying 115.55-16.05 (08.55-09.05 CET) Qualifying 2 (Top Ten)
Sunday, 23rd October 201108.50-09.05 (01.50-02.05 CET) Warm up14.35-15.00 (07.35-08.00 CET) Race 1 (23 laps = 51.704 kms) (Rolling start)15.50-16.15 (08.50-09.15 CET) Race 2 (23 laps = 51.704 kms) (Standing start)SUZUKA WTCC ON TVIn Europe, qualifying, warm up and the races are be broadcasted live on EurosportInternational.
DRIVERS POINTS STANDINGS AFTER RACE 18 OF 241. Y Muller (Chevrolet), 333 points; 2. R Huff (Chevrolet), 317; 3. A Menu (Chevrolet),253; 4. T Coronel (BMW), 164; 5. G Tarquini (SEAT), 155; … 12. D O’Young (Chevrolet), 43;14. C Bueno (Chevrolet), 25; ... etc
MANUFACTURERS POINTS STANDINGS AFTER RACE 18 OF 241. Chevrolet, 734 points; 2. BMW, 433; 3. SEAT, 393; 4. Volvo, 126.