The Chevrolet team spent three days on the Spanish circuit of Jerez de la Frontera where they ran both the current Cruze WTCC car and the 2011 model equipped with the new 1.6L turbo engine. Rob Huff and Yvan Muller shared the driving duties in Andalusia.
The test with the 2010 Cruze was aimed at preparing for the two final events of the season, focusing mainly on brakes, which are to play a key role in Japan and Macau, where Chevrolet and Muller will defend their respective leads in the Manufacturers‘ and Drivers‘ Championships.
In parallel, the 2011 Cruze completed an impressive 1020-kilometres without any technical issue; a very encouraging outcome for the first long test of the new car and engine.
Rob Huff commented: "This was a very positive test. The new engine is responding well and we are exactly where we wanted to be. The driveability of the car is really excellent, thanks to the much better torque of the turbo engine."
And Yvan Muller echoed: "It was the first time I was driving the 2011 Cruze with the new engine and I was very positively impressed. We still have a lot of work to do, but we have a very good basis to build upon and we are working in the right direction."
The 2011 WTCC Chevrolet Cruze was testing at Jerez de la Frontera
THE NEW ENGINE: A CHALLENGE FOR RML
The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze WTCC was built around the new engine that has been produced at RML during the last seven months. "We created our own engine division at the end of 2005," explained RML’s chief engineer Arnaud Martin, "but this is the first time we design, build and develop an engine entirely in-house. It represents a significant challenge, as this is clearly a project demanding a lot of resources that we had to utilise in parallel with the equally demanding normal racing programme."
The adoption of the new powertrain implied that many other things had to be redesigned. "It doesn’t show from the outside at all. Save the new air intake in the front and the bigger exhaust, the 2011 Cruze looks pretty much the same as the 2010 one. In reality, under the skin, 65% of the car is entirely new," explained Chevrolet’s chief engineer Ron Hartvelt.
Team principal Ray Mallock commented on the switch to the 1.6L turb "I think it was the right choice. Motor racing cannot live in isolation from the automotive trends and concerns of society. On the contrary, as always in the past, motor racing can be very useful in exploring new avenues and optimizing new concepts. This is happening again with the new 1.6 turbo, as it is already out-performing the 2.0L normally aspirated engine currently in use."
Focus is now on testing and testing again. The 2011 Cruze is off for a programme of 3,500-kilometres of tests in the forthcoming weeks and months, which will be carried out mostly on tracks in Spain and Portugal. One of the key goals is to reach the maximum reliability, as the new rules set by the FIA only allow one engine change during the 2011 season and none in 2012.
The 1.6L turbo engine of the Cruze was designed and built at RML
STRONG LIVE TV COVERAGE FOR WTCC IN JAPAN
The 2010 FIA WTCC Kenwood Race of Japan will receive a large TV coverage all around the world, including live transmissions in Europe, Japan and the Asia-Pacific region.
European WTCC fans will have to program their alarm clock and wake up early to follow the penultimate event of the season as Eurosport – Europe’s largest television sports channel – will offer live coverage of the qualifying sessions on Saturday at 8:30am cet, and the two races on Sunday, respectively at 6:15am and 7:45am cet.
In Japan, Gaora Sports – the Japanese Sports channel – will also show both races live at 2:00pm and 3:45pm (local times) as well as highlights on Tuesday, November 4th at 2:30pm. In addition, the TXN network comprising of six Japanese regional broadcasters (TV Osaka, TV Tokyo, TV Aichi,TV Setouchi, TV Hokkaido, TVQ Kyushu Housou) will show a highlight programme on Sunday 7th November at 4:00pm local time.
For those in America, Speed Channel will be broadcasting both races on a delayed basis
FRANCIACORTA HOSTS THE ETCC FINAL
The 2010 FIA European Touring Car Cup will come to an end in Italy this week. After the events at Braga, Portugal, and Austrian Salzburgring, the three FIA Cups for Super 2000, Super 1600 and Super Production are still at stake and will be awarded at Franciacorta, Italy.
A THREE-MAN FIGHT FOR THE S2000 CLASS
Reigning FIA European Super 2000 Cup champion James Thompson is well placed to retain the continental crown. However, with 20 points to be awarded, a three-man fight is set for the title.
Thompson and his Hartmann Racing Honda Accord won the first round at Braga and then claimed podium results in the other three races, but Tomas Engström in his own team’s Honda Accord is only ten points adrift.
WTCC regular Michel Nykjær – who won the ETCC twice in 2007 and 2008 – joined the series at Salzburgring claiming a double victory in the SUNRED SEAT León TDI that propelled him to third, only two points behind Engström.
Nykjær, Thompson and Engström will fight to clinch the S2000 ETC Cup