Chevrolet must master a new venue on the World Touring Car Championship calendar if they wish to continue their winning form as the series visits the Hungaroring for the first time.
The circuit at Budapest has replaced the streets of Marrakech as the location for the fourth round of the season, providing a new challenge for the Chevrolet team and its drivers as they try to keep their lead in both the drivers' and manufacturers' standings.
Rob Huff leads the way in the drivers' title race after an emphatic double victory last time out at Monza. He feels well prepared for the Hungarian round.
“I am happy to go to a new circuit, and quite optimistic as well, as we tend to do well on new circuits,” said Huff. “I have been trying to know more about the Hungaroring, where I have never been before, practicing on the playstation and watching on-board TV footage on Youtube, but of course, all this is never quite the same as reality.
“I have also been doing some mapping work at Snetterton earlier this week, and feel completely ready. I am happy with our results so far and the objective is to keep the strong performance going and try to extend our lead in both championships.”
Yvan Muller lies second in the drivers' standings, 36 points away from Huff.
“I have never raced at the Hungaroring, but a new track and new scenery are always something very nice to have,” said Muller. “I think we'll all be on an equal footing, as Budapest will be new for the vast majority of WTCC teams and drivers.
“I really don't know much about the track and what they say about being a narrow track where overtaking is difficult may be true for F1 but not necessarily for touring cars, so we will see. I will be arriving earlier and will devote Wednesday to explore the circuit, by bike and on foot.”
Alain Menu is currently third in the standings, just five points behind Muller. Unlike his teammates, he has raced at the circuit before, though as he explains his experience there won't help him much this weekend.
“Among the Chevy drivers, I am the only one who has raced in Budapest in the past, in the FIA-GT in 2001. But I must say that was a long time ago and our race only lasted a few laps, because of technical problems, so I don't remember much of the track and it will be almost new to me as well.
“I have though a nice memory of the place, the town and the atmosphere and I look forward to be in Hungary again. My objective will be simple: to avoid trouble, take zero risks and score as many points as possible.”
RML's Ron Hartvelt explains the technical challenge of the Hungaroring to the team.
“After the long straights and fast corners of Monza, it will be interesting to see how we perform on a completely different track, as Budapest is a twisty and a relatively slow circuit. Theoretically, it is also a circuit not too hard on tyres, and we should be pretty competitive there. At the moment, all long-term weather forecasts are predicting some rain, so this could be an additional factor to take into consideration.
“Going to a circuit where we have never been so far is less of a problem nowadays, as you can get access to a lot of data from other formulae and make computer simulations. These will give us the very basic set-ups and gear ratios where to start working from, and we will start doing this during the extra testing session we will have on Friday.
“Clearly, as RML is involved also in the Le Mans Series, which raced in Budapest last August, our colleagues from the LMP2 program have given us some hints about, for instance, cornering speeds, but it's really the computers doing all the initial calculations.
“For the rest, we have been testing a little bit at MIRA and Snetterton lately, just to validate some of the work done these last months, but we are not bringing any major up-dates to the cars.”
Chevrolet Motorsport Europe's Eric Neve adds: “Everybody is happy to go to a new circuit and to a beautiful town like Budapest, so we can expect this to be a very pleasant event. From a sports point of view, we have enjoyed a very successful start to the season but we are staying completely focused on our objectives and dealing with those on a race-by-race basis, as we always do, knowing also that the competition is working hard to challenge us as soon as possible.”