Rob Huff is only two races away from being sacred 2012 FIA World Touring Car Champion.
Sun 04.11.12, 3:03PM
The young Englishman walked away from Shanghai as the new point leader, fifteen days before the season’s finale. Huff claimed one second place in today’s first race and then won the second one benefitting from the collision between his Chevrolet team-mates Alain Menu and Yvan Muller.
An incident that almost terminated their hopes to keep on fighting until the last finish line. Winning the first race in China, Menu had managed to reduce his gap to 25 points and was set to further close it, as he was leading the second race. When Muller hit him in an attempt of overtaking, Menu slipped down to third, while the Frenchman was later punished by the Stewards with a time penalty that dropped him out of the points.
This gave Huff a solid margin, although both Menu and Muller are still kept in contention by the numbers, because they now lie 35 and 41 points behind, with 55 still to be awarded.
In the Yokohama Trophy, instead, the fight for the title is going to the wire at Macau. Stefano D’Aste put in two strong performanceS – third and fourth overall – to win both races, and has now gaps of only 15 and 3 points from Norbert Michelisz and Pepe Oriola who both experienced a black weekend. The championship will resume for the final races – Rounds 23 and 24 – at Macau on November 18.
RACE 1 – MENU-HUFF 1 AND 2, MULLER IS OFF
The ultimate fight for the 2012 WTCC title has begun and Yvan Muller was the first victim. The reigning champion retired after an incident at the start, while his Chevrolet team-mates Alain Menu and Rob Huff finished first and second. This gave Huff a 16-point lead in the championship ahead of Muller, while Menu is third only a further 12 points adrift. Stefano D’Aste completed the podio and claimed a crucial win in the Yokohama Trophy, as he considerably closed the gap from Norbert Michelisz and Pepe Oriola who remained both scoreless. The race provided plenty of excitement and a number of players were involved in different incidents. Tom Coronel and Gabriele Tarquini fought for fourth place and finished in the order, while Tom Boardman achieved a brilliant sixth, followed by determined Tiago Monteiro and Colin Turkington who recovered after the collision at the start. Albert Cerqui and Fredy Barth rounded off the top ten.
Start – Menu takes the lead from pole; Huff dives on the inside of Muller
Lap 1 – Muller clashes with Michelisz and spins at Turn 3; MacDowall, Turkington, O’Young, Oriola and Coronel are involved in the pile up
Lap 1 – Tarquini overtakes Coronel and Oriola for fourth
Lap 2 – Michelisz and Bennani overtake Nash for 11th
Lap 3 – Boardman overtakes Oriola for sixth; Monteiro overtakes Bennani for ninth
Lap 4 – Coronel overtakes Tarquini for third; Barth overtakes Oriola for seventh
Lap 5 – Monteiro overtakes Oriola for eighth; Michelisz is given a drive through for the incident with Muller
Lap 7 – Monteiro overtakes Barth for seventh
Lap 9 – Turkington overtakes Cerqui and Barth for eighth
Lap 10 – Bennani overtakes Engstler for 11th
Y. Muller: race incident; A. MacDowall: DNC, race incident; D. O’Young: DNC, race incident; J. Nash: engine; F. Monje: race incident
RACE 2 – HUFF LEADS A CHEVROLET 1-2-3
Chevrolet claimed another clean sweep for the podium of the second race, with Rob Huff crossing the line first ahead of Yvan Muller and Alain Menu. This enabled the Englishman to stretch his championship lead by 7 further points. The key moment of the race happened at the beginning of lap 8, when Muller tried to overtake Menu who was leading at the end of the pit straight. They made contact and Huff took the opportunity to jump ahead of them both. In the final part of the race Muller recovered the second position, but Huff had built a solid gap by then. The trio of Chevrolet cars was followed by a trio of BMW cars, with Tom Coronel, Stefano D’Aste and Mehdi Bennani finishing in fourth, fifth and sixth; the Italian claimed his second victory of the day in the Yokohama Trophy. Gabriele Tarquini was classified seventh, ahead of Colin Turkington who managed to prevail after a race-long tough battle with Tom Boardman, Alberto Cerqui and Tiago Monteiro.
Start – Coronel takes the lead from pole, followed by D’Aste
Lap 1 – Michelisz and MacDowall collide at Turn 1 while fighting for third
Lap 2 – Menu overtakes D’Aste for second
Lap 3 – D’Aste, whose left front door hangs loose, is passed by Muller and Huff
Lap 4 – Boardman overtakes Tarquini for sixth; Coronel loses the lead to Menu and Muller
Lap 5 – Huff overtakes Coronel for third; Monteiro overtakes Cerqui for ninth
Lap 6 – Turkington overtakes Cerqui for tenth
Lap 8 – Muller hits Menu at the braking of Turn 1; Huff jumps into the lead
Lap 9 – Menu overtakes Muller for second
Lap 11 – Muller retakes second from Menu
Lap 13 – Turkington overtakes Boardman for eighth
J. Nash: DNS, engine; P. Oriola: technical failure; K. Leong: technical failure
Time penalty for Muller and other five
Yvan Muller has nearly lost his chances to grab a fourth WTCC title following a thirty second penalty he received from the Stewards for hitting Alain Menu in the second race. This dropped him from second to 13th and out of the points. Other five drivers were also given a 30-second penalty for taking an advantage during the pile up at the start of the first race. They were: Tom Boardman (dropped from 6th to 12th), Tiago Monteiro (from 7th to 13th), Fredy Barth (from 10th to 14th), Hugo Valente (from 15th to 16th) and James Nash (who retired).
THE WORD TO THE WINNERS
Alain Menu – Race 1 winner: “The first race was very smooth. I took a good start, my car was perfect. All I had to do was keeping Rob behind at a safe distance and not to be too tough with the front tyres. Unfortunately all the points I had managed to recover in Race 1 I lost them again in Race 2. I think that my hopes to become world champion have ended here today.”
Rob Huff – Race 1 winner: “It was a fantastic weekend for me. Especially after the qualifying session I had yesterday. I was very disappointed with that. But today my car was great! Obviously I feel pretty happy to go to Macau as the championship leader. That circuit has also been very good to me in the last four years. Anything can happen there, but our car is very strong on street circuits. I’m very excited!”