The 2011 World Touring Car Championship season has reached the halfway mark after the Race of Portugal, with Rob Huff currently on course for his first world title as his Chevrolet team dominate proceedings.
Chevrolet have won 11 of the 12 races so far this season, with Gabriele Tarquini's victory in Round 4 at Zolder in his SUNRED-run SEAT turbo diesel the only break in the RML-run squad's dominance.
Chevrolet laid down a marker at the opening round at Curitiba in Brazil. Huff won Race 1, with Yvan Muller and Chevrolet guest driver and local star Caca Bueno completing the podium. Alain Menu won Race 2 in his Cruze, with Tom Coronel spoiling the party in his ROAL Motorsport BMW. The Dutchman kept Muller and Huff at bay to finish second. Huff made the trip back to Europe with a lead of four points over Menu and Muller, who were tied for second place.
Huff won again in Race 1 at Zolder in Belgium, with Menu and Muller completing a second 1-2-3 of the season for Chevrolet. Huff could have won again in Race 2, but contact with Tarquini as he moved for the lead sent him down the order. Tarquini held on to win ahead of Menu, with Tiago Monteiro completing the podium. Huff kept his standings lead, just one point ahead of Menu. A retirement for Muller dropped him to fourth behind Tarquini.
Chevrolet had another Race 1 podium lockout on the cards at Monza in Italy, but a last lap clash between Muller and Menu as they faught over second place behind Huff sent Menu into the gravel. Nonetheless, Huff scored another win ahead of Muller and Monteiro. Huff completed a double victory in Race 2, with Muller second again and Kristian Poulsen in third. This moved the Brit 36 points clear in the points, with Muller second and Menu a further five points behind in third.
Menu bounced back by winning the series’ first race at the Hungaroring, resisting home favourite Norbert Michelisz. Javi Villa completed the podium with Muller and Huff finishing fourth and fifth – the latter recovering after qualifying 11th for both races after getting caught out by the new reverse grid system. Muller won Race 2, which was suspended due to torrential rain. Huff came home second, with Tarquini third. Muller reduced Huff’s lead in the standings to 31 points, with Menu now 46 adrift after crashing out of Race 2.
Huff passed Muller in Race 1 at Brno to lead home a Chevrolet 1-2-3. In Race 2, Muller moved through from eighth on the grid to win, but Coronel held onto second place under pressure from Menu and Huff, who had to settle for third and fourth. Muller trimmed Huff’s standings lead to 25 points, but with Menu slipping away 53 points off the lead.
Menu scored his third win of the year in Race 1 at Porto, with Muller holding onto second place under pressure from Huff in yet another Chevrolet 1-2-3. Huff caught and passed his French teammate to win Race 2, with Monteiro scoring a home podium in third place.
Huff leads the standings after 12 of the 24 races, on 227 points. Muller is second on 198 points, 29 behind Huff. Menu is struggling to stay with his two teammates in third place. He has 167 points, which is 60 fewer than Huff and 31 less than Muller.
For the rest of the grid the best they can hope for is fourth place, where there is a close three way battle. Monteiro leads the way on 101 points, just one point ahead of Coronel and two ahead of Tarquini. Michelisz is seventh on 66 points, with Poulsen, Villa and Darryl O’Young completing the top ten.
Michelisz leads the Yokohama Trophy standings despite not making the trip to Brazil. He is five points ahead of Poulsen, with Villa a further five behind. O’Young is fourth another five points behind Villa, six points ahead of Michel Nykjaer. Franz Engstler completes a close top six, six points behind Nykjaer.
The second half of the season commences with the series’ first visit to Donington Park this weekend. Regular stops Oschersleben and Valencia complete the European leg of the season, with flyaway trips to Suzuka, Guangdong and Macau completing the season.
Drivers’ standings after 12 of 24 races:
1. Rob Huff, 227 points
2. Yvan Muller, 198
3. Alain Menu, 167
4. Tiago Monteiro, 101
5. Tom Coronel, 100
6. Gabriele Tarquini, 99
7. Norbert Michelisz, 66
8. Kristian Poulsen, 57
9. Javier Villa, 44
10. Darryl O’Young, 39
Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy standings:
1. Norbert Michelisz, 74
2. Kristian Poulsen, 69
3. Javier Villa, 64
4. Darryl O’Young, 59
5. Michel Nykjaer, 53
6. Franz Engstler, 47
Donington Park, UK: 17th July
Oschersleben, Germany: 31 July
Valencia, Spain: 4 September
Suzuka, Japan: 23 October
Guangdong, China: 6 November
Macau: 20 November