Yvan Muller grabbed his third World Touring Car Championship title, beating his Chevrolet team-mate Rob Huff by only three points after 24 rounds.
Until the last race Huff left no stone unturned in the attempt to revert a situation that saw him twenty points behind before the season finale at Macau. However, not even the two victories he obtained today – that made him the most winning WTCC driver on the Guia circuit, with five successes – were enough.
After putting a lot of pressure on Huff during the first race, when he was lying second, Muller was able to maintain concentration, avoiding the risks and pocketing two podium results that were worth the title.
This was the icing on the Chevrolet’s cake at the end of a season that was largely dominated by the brand of the GM Group and the Cruze cars admirably prepared and run by RML. Figures say it all: 21 victories out of 24 races, 12 pole positions out of 12, 19 fastest laps out of 24, 256 laps led out of 347.
No wonder then that Muller, Huff and Alain Menu (who had no luck today, being involved in a first race accident that sidelined him for good) filled the championship podium.
A few other drivers showed off today. Gabriele Tarquini and Tom Coronel were able to escort Huff and Muller on the podiums, confirming that they were the best of the rest. Coronel ranked fourth in the final standings and Tarquini fifth.
Like Huff, Michel Nikyær had the difficult task to recover a lot of points in the Yokohama Trophy. Like Huff he won both races. And like Huff he lost the title by a few points (only two) to Kristian Poulsen.
Now the championship faces a 110-day break before the 2012 season kicks off at Monza on March 11.
RACE 1 – HUFF REDUCES GAP TO 13 POINTS
Rob Huff won the first race at Macau, keeping his team-mate and championship leader Yvan Muller at bay during a race that was neutralized twice by the safety car. This result meant that the Briton reduced his gap from Muller to 13 points, keeping alive his chances to be sacred world champion in the second race.
For the whole distance Muller put strong pressure on Huff, changing line at every braking point in the attempt to push him to make a mistake. In spite of this, Huff remained cool and focused, avoiding to open the least of a gap.
Gabriele Tarquini collected another podium result ahead of Tom Coronel, while Michel Nikyær finished in fifth winning the Yokohama Trophy, while Kristian Poulsen clinched the title even before the final race. Joe Rosa-Merszei claimed victory in the Jay-Ten Trophy.
RACE 2 – HUFF WINS, MULLER IS CHAMPION
Rob Huff encored, claiming a second dominant victory, but he lost the world title to Yvan Muller by three points only.
The Briton tried his best to recover the 13-point gap and managed to overtake Michel Nikyær and Tom Coronel (who had taken a fantastic start from the second row) on his way to another race win. However, Muller was in a position to control without taking too many risks.
For six laps, two of them behind the safety car, Huff and Muller were equal for points and the number of victories (eight each); and yet the Frenchman would have been champion because of the second places (eight against six). Eventually Muller settled the situation by moving up to third, ahead of Nikyær.
The latter won again the Yokohama Trophy race, beating Mehdi Bennani who obtained his best result ever – sixth – in WTCC, while Joe Rosa-Merszei claimed his second victory in the Jay-Ten Trophy.