Chevrolet scored a double race victory at Curitiba in Brazil to get their World Touring Car Championship title defence off to a good start.
Rob Huff led from pole position to the checkered flag in Race One, leading home teammates Yvan Muller and local star Caca Bueno. Alain Menu climbed from tenth position on the grid to come home sixth.
In Race Two Menu converted his pole position into a race victory after getting the better of BMW driver Tom Coronel. Muller finished third, with Huff fourth and Bueno fifth.
Huff leads the Drivers' Championship leaving Brazil on 37 points, with Menu and Muller tied for second on 33 points. Bueno, who will not be competing in the full WTCC season, lies in fifth on 25 points.
The results in Brazil proved the competitiveness of the team's revised Cruze 1.6 turbo model.
Huff is delighted to be returning to Europe as the championship leader. “It has been a brilliant weekend for the entire team and, clearly, to leave Brazil as the championship leader makes me very happy,” the Briton said.
“Race 1 was pretty uneventful, we just had to finish the job we had started in qualifying. Race 2 was very intense, we all were very close. My engine stalled a little bit behind Coronel and that's when Yvan passed me. We had a good fight in the following two corners, but everything went ok and we can be very happy with these outstanding results.”
Muller is pleased to have picked up two podium finishes, as he begins the defence of his 2010 title. “Two podiums in the opening meeting is a very good result,” he said. “I didn't win and I'm not leading the championship, but I am very happy, as I can see the car performs very well. I had a good fight with Rob in Race 2 but it was very fair and we both enjoyed it. Now we have to continue the work and see how the Cruze will perform in warmer weather and with more weight.”
Having been left outside of the top ten after the first qualifying session on Saturday, Menu enjoyed the way his weekend turned out. “Definitely a much better day than yesterday,” he declared. “I was lucky with the positive consequences of the sanction to Barth, but after all the bad luck last year, I think it was just a fair compensation.”
Menu admitted he was cautious after catching the BMWs of Coronel and Kristian Poulsen in the first race. “In Race 1 I climbed a few positions and found myself behind the BMWs of Coronel and Poulsen, who were fighting hard. I stayed away from that, as I didn't want to take any risk ahead of Race 2.
“In Race 2 I had a poor start and then had to fight to regain the lead. I could pass Tarquini relatively easily but Coronel was much harder. I knew the only place where I could make it was at the end of the straight, where he was as fast as me but where I could brake a little bit later so I did not miss the opportunity when he left me some space on the inside.”
Multiple Brazilian Stock Car champion Bueno was delighted with his performance on his second appearance in the WTCC after a fiery debut weekend with Chevrolet at Brands Hatch last season.
“It has been a very pleasant weekend. It's really a great experience to be part of such a team and I am really pleased with my results, which are slightly above what I expected. In Race 1 it was not too difficult to keep the third position and finishing on the podium in front of my home crowd is a very nice reward. In Race 2 I just did everything possible to support and protect the other Chevys. Now I just hope I can have the possibility to be in the WTCC again soon.”
Chevrolet Motorsport Europe director Eric Neve commented: “What a nice way to start the season! We can really feel proud of the entire team, the drivers and especially the engine guys, who have done a fantastic job during the winter, allowing us to have a perfect weekend here. It was also nice to see so many people here in Curitiba. I think the idea of having the Brazilian Stock Car series together with the WTCC was definitely excellent.”