Suzuka WTCC: Alain Menu leads a routine Chevrolet sweep
|By Peter Mills
||Sunday, October 21st 2012, 06:41 GMT
Alain Menu converted pole position to his fourth World Touring Car Championship win of the season in round 19 on the truncated Suzuka East circuit.
The Swiss racer's score of 30 points towards his recovery in the drivers' standings was offset by team-mate and championship leader Yvan Muller finishing second ahead of the third RML Chevrolet of Rob Huff.
There was light contact in the fight for second at Turn 1 when Huff attempted to pass Muller. Thereafter the Chevrolets settled down to complete another relatively routine podium lock-out, the trio separated by 1.4 seconds at the finish.
Gabriele Tarquini overtook Alex MacDowall for fourth away from the line, and the 2009 WTCC champion struck a finely judged balance between pacing himself and conserving tyres to hold the Bamboo Engineering driver at bay until the chequered flag.
MacDowall was left with the satisfaction of Independent Trophy honours, his first since the Salzburgring in May. The Briton was comfortably ahead of Tarquini's Lukoil SEAT team-mate Aleksei Dudukalo.
Former Russian ice racing ace Dudukalo survived being knocked sideways at Turn 3 by Mehdi Bennani four laps from home. Like several other BMW runners, Bennani displayed strong pace in the closing laps, but his late move would result in retirement.
Honda's decision to enter the last three rounds of 2012 with its new Civic was rewarded with a 10th-place finish for Tiago Monteiro. The Portuguese driver stayed clear of trouble and appeared happy to sit towards the tail of a queue of cars behind Dudukalo.
ROAL Motorsport's Alberto Cerqui was the sole retirement. After an audacious move around the outside of James Nash at Turn 1 on lap 14, the former Italian Superstars champion lost control at the same corner on the next lap.
Results - 25 laps:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Alain Menu Chevrolet 23m44.880s
2. Yvan Muller Chevrolet + 0.812s
3. Rob Huff Chevrolet + 1.419s
4. Gabriele Tarquini Lukoil SEAT + 13.828s
5. Alex MacDowall Bamboo Chevrolet + 14.273s
6. Aleksei Dudukalo Lukoil SEAT + 19.644s
7. Tom Coronel ROAL BMW + 19.870s
8. Pepe Oriola Tuenti SEAT + 20.415s
9. Stefano D'Aste Wiechers BMW + 20.677s
10. Tiago Monteiro Honda + 21.284s
11. Franz Engstler Engstler BMW + 21.490s
12. Darryl O'Young Bamboo Chevrolet + 23.724s
13. Tom Boardman Special Tuning SEAT + 32.605s
14. Norbert Michelisz Zengo BMW + 32.767s
15. James Nash Arena Ford + 33.894s
16. Fernando Monje Tuenti SEAT + 34.151s
17. Tom Chilton Arena Ford + 34.615s
18. Hiroki Yoshimoto Tuenti SEAT + 40.965s
19. Rene Munnich Special Tuning SEAT + 48.733s
20. Masaki Kano Engstler BMW + 1 lap
21. Mehdi Bennani Proteam BMW + 1 lap
22. Charles Ng Engstler BMW + 3 laps
Alberto Cerqui ROAL BMW 14 laps