JP Cariño / JP Cariño | November 28, 2008 00:00
Rob Huff takes maiden Macau GP victory, Yvan Muller wins championship
The final rounds of the World Touring Car Championship on the streets of Macau will once again determine the overall champion. After last year's heartbreaking finish, Yvan Muller of SEAT comes into this weekends' race as the clear favorite. This time he is up against his teammate, Italian Gabrielle Tarquini who is 14 points behind Muller. On pole for the penultimate race is Chevrolets' Alain Menu, followed by last year's champion Andy Priaulx (BMW).
As always, the morning race of the WTCC is on a rolling start formation and Menu put to good use of his pole position as he sprinted away from Priaulx on the opening laps to build up a 2 second lead over the BMW driver. Rob Huff (Chevrolet) got off to a flying start and immediately tucked into third with Yvan Muller following him closely. Gabrielle Tarquini, on the other hand was losing hope on the title as he was languishing in seventh place.
Drama on lap 5 saw Rickard Rydell (SEAT) lose turbo pressure and was out of contention for the fight for third overall in the championship. By lap 8, Andy Priaulx had closed the gap to Menu by 0.712 seconds but the Chevrolet driver was having none of it as he put his head down and drove the last lap perfectly to claim a Chevrolet win by .523 seconds over Priaulx. Yvan Muller rounded off the podium and is crowned the 2008 WTCC Driver's champion. Sergio Hernandez claimed the Independents trophy for BMW.
With the top eight reversed for the second race, Honda driver James Thompson starts on pole over Tarquini and Jordi Gene. Newly crowned WTCC champion, Yvan Muller starts in sixth. Once the red lights went off, the Honda Accord of Thompson immediately pulled away from the field with Augusto Farfus (BMW) in tow for the run down to Lisboa.
It was pretty much a race of attrition as the field was losing cars to incidents lap by lap. Local hero, Andre Couto (Honda) hit the Lisboa barriers hard after driving on someone's oil partly mixed with cement dust. Couto collected Jorg Muller when he bounced of the barriers with both cars ending up too damaged to continue. On the eight lap, Farfus hit the left rear of Thompson sending the Honda driver to the wall, ending his chances of finishing the season on a high which was very much needed as they were hoping for full factory support from Honda next year.
On the last lap, it was looking as if Farfus was on track for a win until he ran over oil laid down by Thompsons' Honda thus sending him into the barriers as well. Gabrielle Tarquini was set to inherit the lead until he hit a loose wheel from Farfus' car, catapulting his Seat two wheels up and terminally damaging his car. Rob Huff (Chevrolet) benefited from the carnage to take his first win ever in Macau and completing another Chevrolet win. His win bolts him up to third overall, a mere point behind Tarquini.