With Chevrolet's three World Touring Car Championship drivers busy undertaking other commitments, it was left to young British driver Alex MacDowall to continue the development work on the 2011 Cruze model at Snetterton.
“First of all I'd like to thank Chevrolet for giving me this great opportunity to test the new Cruze, it's been a real privilege to drive the car and an absolute pleasure as well”, said MacDowall, “I had a great time, the new Cruze is a fantastic car with great handling and the new global race engine feels strong.”
MacDowall underlined his hopes for the 2011 season. “I want to be back in the BTCC next year”, he added, “With a season's experience behind me I'm confident we could be podium regulars. It was fantastic working with such experienced people this year for my first season in touring cars and to have a great team-mate like Jason to learn from.
“We definitely deserve to be in the BTCC, I think I proved this year I've got the speed and racecraft to compete at the front. I'd have liked to finish on the podium a few more times but overall it was a great season and gives us a brilliant platform to build on if we can secure a deal to be back in 2011.”
Meanwhile both Alain Menu and Yvan Muller are in Australia this weekend, competing in the Gold Coast 600, part of the popular V8 Supercar series. Both of them are racing for the Australian GM brand Holden around the streets of Surfers Paradise, paired with regular V8 Supercar drivers. The pair will then race for Chevrolet at the Okayama round of the WTCC next weekend, before flying to Argentina to take part in the 200km of Buenos Aires, the most prestigious round of the TC2000 series. Both will race Chevrolet Vectra models as co-drivers for the Chevrolet Elaion team. The pair will continue their globetrotting by travelling to Macau for the WTCC season finale.
Alain said: “As we speak, all international drivers invited to the Surfers' Paradise race are in a nearby track, Queensland Raceway, for a free practice session. I must say the V8 Holden, with its almost 600 hp and no traction control, is a very impressive machine, especially on a wet track like today. It's not going to be easy to stay on the track this weekend. But I enjoyed the experience a lot, this is a big thing in Australia and there is a lot of excitement around it down here! I am off to a long trip, I'll be coming home after Japan and Argentina, but for sure my family is not going to see much of me for six weeks. It's a lot of travel, I know, but I generally cope well with long flights and jet-lag, and I must say that since I arrived to Australia, the quality of my sleep has improved a lot.”
Yvan added: “I enjoyed racing in the WRC rally a lot in Alsace a couple of weeks ago and I'm now off for some new, different racing experiences! I have never raced in Surfers' Paradise, I know it is a very challenging circuit, so I am really looking forward to it. On the contrary, I have already raced in the V8 Supercar, which is a tremendous series, I even won a race in Sandown back in 2005, and I am sure it will all come back after a few laps! I still don't know if I will pass through home in Europe before the end of the WTCC. My original plan is not to, also because I want to arrive early in Macau and get perfectly adjusted time-wise, which is a key factor, especially when you are fighting for the championship.”
Rob Huff meanwhile is currently in China in an ambassadorial role, invited by GM China to coach media representatives attending the launch of the Chevrolet Cruze 1.6 turbo road car. He said: “At this very moment, I am in a relatively remote region of Southern China, a beautiful lake district near Kunming. It took me 30 hours and 3 flights to get here from Britain, but it is really a wonderful and peaceful place, not far from Shangri-la! It is here that the Cruze 1.6 turbo will be presented to Chinese media. The program foresees a number of drives and some special activities in a proving ground, such as slalom and stop-and-go. My role is to prepare these activities, set the objectives and coach the journalists that will participate. We just finished designing and testing the slalom track and I am sure we are going to have a lot of fun!”
Chevrolet Motorsport Europe head Eric Neve commented: “For sure, our three drivers are having a busy schedule in this end-of-season. My personal view regarding extra-championship commitments is that they are good to keep the drivers active and fit, especially when you have long breaks like we have now in the WTCC between the end of the European season and the Asian rounds. Drivers want to drive, that's what they enjoy and what keeps them happy and in good shape, and it is always good for them to experience different cars, tracks and racing cultures. It is something that enriches them as professional drivers, so our policy is to allow this kind of extra activities, as long as they are not competing against other officially-entered GM brands.”