The 2010 FIA WTCC Drivers‘ Championship has ended as in 2008, with Yvan Muller crowned as the new champion and Gabriele Tarquini and Rob Huff finishing on equal points, with the Italian classified second thanks to more race wins.
Muller has won his second world title, this time for Chevrolet, two years after the one he claimed for SEAT Sport.
"It feels good! I did my job properly and I’m pleased for the team," he commented.
He was given the absolute certainty of the title even before Macau, when the International Court of Appeal excluded Andy Priaulx from the Japanese meeting.
"Before the verdict I had done twenty races to win this title, so I don’t feel like I won this off the track. After Japan I felt it was already done, as I had a 37-point lead so there was only a small chance of losing it. I had been winning this title since the first race in Curitiba and kept hold to have the biggest advantage by Japan."
Muller showed impressive consistency since joining WTCC in 2006. In five seasons he was classified first twice, second twice and fourth once, claiming 13 victories and scoring more points than any other driver with 711. During the current season he obtained three wins and 13 podium results in 22 races.
"There are many keys to a championship. Consistency is important but you also need a good car, good engineers, good mechanics and a bit of luck! It is nice to have been fighting for the title in the last five years. I think if you do a world championship classification over the whole of the last five years, I would also win that!"
He was also the first driver to win the WTCC with different Manufacturers.
"To make comparison it’s unavoidable. When I won my first title with SEAT it was a very important year after I had lost the 2007 championship on the last lap. Winning now with Chevrolet has also been special. It has been my first year with them, and giving them their first title added a special feeling."
The 2010 championship podium: Tarquini 2nd, Muller 1st, Huff 3rd
CHEVROLET CELEBRATED A TRIUMPHANT SEASON
The 1-2 finish of Rob Huff and Yvan Muller in the first race at Macau gave Chevrolet the 2010 FIA World Touring Car Championship title for Manufacturers‘.
The level of competition on the track between the three brands represented was incredibly high and balanced, as it is proved by the figures: BMW and Chevrolet claimed seven victories apiece and SEAT eight.
"I am very proud. To win Chevrolet’s first championship in the WTCC is fantastic. This is not only the first FIA world championship for Chevrolet, but the first ever for any GM brand and it feels great to be part of that," said Eric Nève, Motorsport Manager of Chevrolet.
For Chevrolet that joined WTCC in 2005, this was a triumphant season with the Cruze cars run by the RML team. A season that was also worth the Drivers‘ Championship with Yvan Muller. "We have fought for both championships this year and winning the Drivers‘ title obviously helped for the Manufacturers‘. To be able to get both was a great achievement. It has been a terrific season. We finished on the podium 21 out of 22 races, only missing out at Brands Hatch. The team have had a consistent season, from starting with a 1-2-3 in Brazil to ending on a high note in Macau," Nève added.
Chevrolet has already confirmed the winning team for next year: Yvan Muller, Rob Huff and Alain Menu. "Aside from Yvan and Rob, Alain has also been a great team player this year and although things haven’t gone his way he has really contributed to the team’s success," concluded Nève.
The Chevrolet Cruze cars finished on the podium in 21 races out of 22
TROPHIES – PROTEAM MOTORSPORT TOOK ALL
Just like Chevrolet did in the overall championship, Proteam Motorsport had a clean sweep in the Yokohama trophies. The Italian outfit clinched both the Independents‘ Trophy with Sergio Hernández and the Teams‘ Trophy, improving their already impressive tally to six titles in six years.
Hernández was crowned Independents‘ champion for the second time; his first win dated back to 2008. The Spaniard claimed five victories during the season and beat Franz Engstler by 29 points, while Kristian Poulsen completed a trio of BMW drivers on top of the standings finishing a further 10 points adrift.
Despite joining the championship on only the third event, Poulsen won seven races, more than any other driver, and was a serious threat for Hernández until he crashed out of Macau’s last race.
Hong Kong rookie Darryl O’Young obtained three victories to be classified fourth in the Trophy; he arrived to the final meeting with good chances to fight for the title but was victim of incidents in both races at Macau. Moroccan youngster Mehdi Bennani claimed fifth position in the trophy after winning his home race in Marrakech.
In the Team’s Trophy Proteam Motorsport grabbed their fourth title ahead of bamboo-engineering and Liqui Moly Team Engstler.
Sergio Hernández ended on a high note at Macau, winning the second race
SEAT DRIVERS DOMINATED ROOKIE CHALLENGE
The new Rookie Challenge offered some exciting fights among emerging young drivers, which is quite remarkable in Touring Car racing, where most of the top-drivers are over 35.
Norbert Michelisz (26), Michel Nykjær (31) and Fredy Barth (31) dominated most of the races at the wheel of their SEAT León TDI cars. Not only were they capable of restricting the title fight among them, but they also put in some impressive performances that resulted in briliant overall results that culminated in Michelisz’s maiden victory at Macau.
The Hungarian youngster had already come close to such an achievement during the season, as he was a regular qualifier in Q2, started from the front row of the reverse grid for race two four times and led for three laps in Portugal. With a number of top-ten finishes he was also able to claim ninth place in the Drivers‘ Championship, as well as clinching the Rookie title.
Nykjær a former double champion in the Danish and European touring cars showed impressive speed. He could have also won an overall race, as he was comfortably leading the pack in Monza and Okayama before retiring in the late stages (due to a puncture in Italy and a mistake in Japan). He finished runner up behind Michelisz, beating Barth by 7 points.
The latter had a dazzling start, collecting four wins in the Rookie challenge out of the first five races. However the second part of the season was not as lucky; the Swiss was often among the fastest but lacked in consistency.
Darryl O’Young and Mehdi Bennani tried their best, but their cars (Chevrolet Lacetti and BMW 320si) could hardly compete with the turbodiesel power. Only O’Young was able to break the winning streak of the SEAT drivers, in the second race at Brno.
Norbert Michelisz and Michel Nykjær classified 1st and 2nd in the Rookie Challenge
AUTO GP JOINS WTCC AS PARTNER SERIES
WTCC and Auto GP announced an agreement that will see Auto GP become partner series to the FIA World Touring Car Championship for six meetings of the 2011 season.
Auto GP will run two races, the first one on Saturday and the second one on Sunday, at the following events: Monza, Italy (15 May), Marrakech, Morocco (5 June), Brno, Czech Republic (19 June), Donington Park, UK (17 July), Oschersleben, Germany (31 July) and Valencia, Spain (4 September).
WTCC promoter, Marcello Lotti commented: "We are very pleased to welcome Auto GP as a partner series in six of our 2011 FIA WTCC events. Not only will this agreement bring high level single-seater racing in the WTCC package once again, but it also completes the attractive programme offered to the fans on site and on TV, that covers all the major forms of car racing: touring cars, one-make GT series and formula cars."