Huff and Menu split wins as Chevrolet dominates team championship in 2011 FIA WTCC opener
As the FIA World Touring Car Championship opens its 2011 season with the new 1.6-liter turbocharged Global Engines in Curitiba, Brazil; four brands take part in the fight for the WTCC Manufacturer's Championship, Chevrolet Europe, BMW Customer Racing Teams, SR Customer Racing and Volvo Polestar Evaluation Team.
Chevrolet's Rob Huff took a lights to flag victory in the first race of the 2011 FIA WTCC season keeping defending champion and teammate Yvan Muller at bay going into turn one. Local Stock Car hero Carlos Bueno quietly kept his pace with his Chevrolet Cruze from third and kept the position as Tom Coronel and Kristian Poulsen were busy dueling behind him in their BMW 320 TC's for fourth. Swiss driver Alain Menu, who did not want to left too far behind his Chevrolet teammates, had an exciting duel with Seat driver Gabriele Tarquini in the 2-liter diesel engine powered Leon. Menu advances to 6th from Tarquini midway through the race in lap 7, while a heated door-to-door battle between Coronel and Poulsen continued until the last lap with Coronel getting ahead.
For the second race, it was Coronel and Tarquini making the early move taking 1st and 2nd from Menu and Nykjær who had bad starts. However, by lap 3, Menu overtakes Tarquini to take 2nd position and was determined to get back on top. The Chevrolet Cruze train of Huff, Muller and Bueno manage to close in on Tarquini's Seat further demoting the Italian to sixth by the 4th lap. Menu finally gets his break on the 10th lap as he overtake Coronel for the lead, but defends it until the final moment with literally inches separating the two drivers. Defending champion Muller didn't want to be outdone as he overtakes teammate Huff to take the last podium spot.
Rob Huff takes the drivers championship lead with 37 points after the opening rounds ahead of teammates Alain Menu and Yvan Muller tied at 33 points for 2nd and 3rd. Tom Coronel is in a close 4th with 30 points. In the manufacturer's championship Chevrolet pulls away with a 30-point margin ahead of BMW Customer Racing's 53 points. The championship moves to Belgium as Rounds 3 and 4 will be held in Zolder.