For once, BMW had a shot at a podium sweep in a World Touring Car Championship race, but a clash among the leading 320 TCs in the second sprint in Valencia, Spain handed the race to the Chevrolet Cruze of Yvan Muller.
Race one went to Chevrolet, the only factory team in the series this season. SEAT’s Gabriele Tarquini motored by the Chevrolet Cruzes of Yvan Muller and Robert Huff to take the early-race lead, but he fell back with a misfire. Muller took over on lap four and went on to win, moving himself into the series drivers’ points lead. Tom Coronel in his ROAL Motorsport 320 TC moved up to third on lap nine, and finished there, behind Cruze racers Yvan Muller and Alain Menu, and ahead of BMW racer Kristian Poulsen.
BMWs occupied three of the first four grid positions for race two. Pole sitter Franz Engstler stalled at the start, ceding the lead to Coronel, who was followed by the BMWs of Javier Villa and Norbert Michelisz. The three BMWs led until Villa and Coronel made contact on lap ten. The incident took Villa out of the race, but Coronel recovered to finish fourth. Michelisz led briefly, but Muller got by him to take a lead that he would not relinquish. Michelisz tried to retake the lead in the final turn of the race, but he spun and fell back to seventh, where he finished, behind the BMW of Poulsen. Coronel was later penalized for the incident with Villa; he was demoted to seventh, promoting Poulsen and Michelisz to fifth and sixth, respectively. (Text continues after photo)
Chevrolet clinched the manufacturers’ championship at Valencia with three races remaining in the season. Coronel is fourth in drivers’ points, but has been mathematically eliminated from the chase for the title. Chevrolet’s Muller, Huff, and Menu are first, second, and third, respectively.
In anticipation of the series' US debut at Infineon Raceway in 2012, Tim Mayer, US representative for the international sanctioning body ACCUS, Steve Page, President of Infineon Raceway, and Ali Arsham, promoter of the US Touring Car Championship, attended the Valencia race and met with WTCC promoter Marcello Lotti.
The three remaining WTCC events are all in Asia. The series runs in Japan on October 23, and then runs in China at Guangdong on November 5 and at Macau on November 20.—Brian S. Morgan, motorsports editor, bmwcca.orgBack to News