Alain Menu was impressed with the performance level of the World Touring Car Championship machinery after completing his first serious test in the Chevrolet Lacetti that he will drive in the new series
Since winning his second British Touring Car Championship title in 2000, Menu has competed in more powerful saloons than the Super Touring style cars he made his name in - racing in the DTM for Opel for three years and also enjoying occasional outings in the Australian V8 Supercar series. The WTCC cars are comparatively underpowered and are more closely related to road-going machinery, but Menu was highly positive about his Lacetti after a week of testing at Albacete.
"I'm pleasantly surprised by what is an FIA WTCC car," he said. "Looking at the technical regulations, I didn't expect a WTCC car to be this quick."
Menu and team-mates Nicola Larini and Rob Huff had previously only managed shakedown tests in the Lacetti at the MIRA proving ground, so the test in Spain was their first chance to experience the RML-built car on a proper racetrack. Freezing weather conditions hampered the test slightly, but the drivers came away satisfied.
"We obviously still need more time to get the best from it, but I'm very happy with the car," said Menu. "It's clear that it has lots of potential."
Chevrolet did not release any times from the test, but Larini suggested that outright speed was not the priority at this stage.
"Rather than looking for performance, we're here to set a baseline to work from in the coming weeks," said Larini. "We are still in the process of learning the car and its reactions to the different set-ups.
"What we already know for sure, however, is that the car is going well and that the reliability is there. The chassis is very good, braking is excellent and the car has lots of potential."
The first WTCC since 1987 commences at Monza on April 10, where Chevrolet will compete against fellow works teams from BMW, Alfa Romeo and Seat, plus independent Peugeot, Honda and Ford entries.
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