The first three events of the 2010 FIA WTCC proved that all three car Manufacturers represented in the championship are fighting on equal ground, in qualifying and in the races.
BMW, Chevrolet and SEAT Customers Technology have equally shared pole positions (one each) and race wins (two each).
Chevrolet’s Yvan Muller claimed pole and Race 1 victory at the season opener in Brazil, with Gabriele Tarquini (SEAT CT) emerging as the winner in the second race. The Italian remained on top in Marrakech, setting pole position and winning the first race, while BMW’s Andy Priaulx won the second one.
Last week in Monza, Priaulx’s team-mate Augusto Farfus was fastest in qualifying and on Sunday, Priaulx and Muller shared victories.
The championship classifications reflect this balance. Muller leads the Drivers‘ by 24 points, while Tarquini and Rob Huff are joint second. Priaulx lies fourth, only two points adrift.
In the Manufacturers standings Chevrolet, SEAT Customers Technology and BMW are covered by just 35 points.
SEAT, Chevrolet and BMW cars are fighting on equal ground
PERNÍA SCORES ON HIS MAIDEN APPEARANCE
Argentine driver Leonel Pernía managed to score his first WTCC point on his maiden appearance, despite everything – circuit, team, car and tyres – being totally new to him.
After a cautious approach at the wheel of the fourth Chevrolet Cruze car, run by the Chevrolet Motorsport Sweden team, Pernía improved consistently throughout the Monza weekend.
The Argentine had a puncture in the late stages of the first race, stopping in the gravel trap of the Parabolica while he was running 11th. He therefore started Race 2 from the back of the grid but made a brilliant recovery to move up to 10th position. His fastest lap of 2:02.582 was only seven-hundredths slower than the race winner Yvan Muller’s.
"I had some exciting battles in the middle of the pack in Race 1. Starting from the back in Race 2, I managed to follow Alain (Menu) and move ahead of all the privateers to score a world championship point. This was the reward of an amazing weekend: I must thank Chevrolet and the entire team for this opportunity. Having had my first run with the car during Friday’s testing session, this was the best I could hope for in my first racing experience outside Argentina," commented Pernía who returned to Argentina and the Equipo Petrobras to take part this weekend in the TC2000 round at Alta Gracia.
First WTCC point for Argentine racer Leonel Pernía in the Chevrolet Cruze
NYKJÆR CLOSE TO MAIDEN VICTORY
SUNRED’s Michel Nykjær was very close to become the second driver in WTCC history to win a race in a non-factory car last Sunday in Monza. Something that only Tom Coronel managed to do when he claimed victory at Okayama in 2008.
In the second race on the Italian track, the Danish driver was denied a resounding result when the front-left tyre of his SEAT León TDI car exploded at the Roggia chicane during the last lap. Nykjær, who had lost fifth place in Race 1 under similar circumstances, had no other options than to stop and hand the lead to Yvan Muller.
Though disappointed he said: "We had the speed, the car was behaving perfectly, and I had already stopped pushing when the puncture happened. I have proved that I am quick enough to win a race, now I just need to do it. I will have another try in Zolder!"
Michel Nykjær leads the second race at Monza from Yvan Muller
BAMBOO DRIVERS SHINE IN ITALY
Last weekend in Monza, bamboo-engineering drivers Harry Vaulkhard and Darryl O’Young had their best WTCC weekend so far with their Chevrolet Lacetti cars run by the British team, proving they can compete with the BMWs for the Independents‘ Trophy lead.
On Saturday O’Young set pole position, claiming a brilliant 12th place overall and beating his team-mate by two-tenths. The Chinese driver was unlucky at the start of the first race, clashing with Kristian Poulsen’s BMW soon after the rolling start.
Vaulkhard crossed the finish line in second place, after a tough battle with Proteam’s Stefano D’Aste and Sergio Hernández, but then inherited victory when Mehdi Bennani was imposed a 30-second time penalty for cutting a chicane.
In the second race O’Young made a great recovery, finishing a close second behind local hero D’Aste, while Vaulkhard completed the podium.
Harry Vaulkhard chased by his bamboo-racing team-mate Darryl O’Young