Rob Huff is the 2012 World Touring Car Champion after finishing second to Alain Menu in the final race of the season in Macau.
The British driver’s Race 1 retirement meant he started the final race with an advantage of 17 points over Yvan Muller and 19 over Menu. The trio started from ninth, eighth and seventh on the reverse grid respectively, and it was Menu who got the best start as he moved up to fourth early on.
Norbert Michelisz took advantage of his rear-wheel drive BMW to take the lead from Alex MacDowall, although the Cumbrian took the place back at the start of the second lap. Menu soon worked his way past third-placed Pepe Oriola and Michelisz before inheriting the lead when MacDowall slid wide and touched the tyre wall at St Francisco, with Yokohama Trophy title rivals Michelisz and Oriola also sneaking through.
MacDowall was in the wars again on the following lap, this time after receiving contact from Muller after getting slightly out of shape at Mandarin. MacDowall’s bamboo engineering Chevrolet slid across the track and slammed hard into the barriers before spinning several times. Fortunately he was able to get out of the car, seemingly unharmed.
After a lengthy safety car period the race restarted, but there was more contact soon afterwards as Oriola ran into the rear of Michelisz under braking for Lisboa. Both cars finished up in the wall, and with the third Yokohama Trophy title contender Stefano D’Aste twice getting into trouble after starting from the pits, Michelisz wrapped up the crown.
Huff just about escaped unharmed past the stricken Oriola, moving up to second as the safety car came back out for the remaining two laps. Menu, Huff and Muller crossed the line to complete a 1-2-3 finish for Chevrolet in their last race as a manufacturer, as Huff sealed his first world title having driven for the team since it debuted in the WTCC in 2005.
Tiago Monteiro finished fourth to complete a promising weekend for the new Honda Civic, which embarks on its first full season in 2013. Darryl O’Young benefited from the Michelisz-Oriola incident to score a double Yokohama Trophy victory at his ‘home’ race, finishing fifth overall ahead of Franz Engstler and the SEAT quartet of Aleksei Dudukalo, Fredy Barth, Tom Boardman and Fernando Monje.