With most of the attention focusing on Tiago Monteiro and the Honda Civic on their first appearance in the World Championship, the Chevrolet team managed to steal the limelight putting in another amazing performance.
During the qualifying run, Menu and his teammates Yvan Muller and Rob Huff monopolized the first three positions, and Alex MacDowall and his bamboo-engineering Cruze car provided the icing on the cake by qualifying in fourth. Which also meant pole position in the Yokohama Trophy for the young Englishman.
As for Monteiro, he qualified 11th after using all the new sets of tires to win a place in Q2. However, on his last attempt in Q1, Monteiro had showed that the Civic has a potential, as he was able to set the seventh fastest lap and advance to Q2. A brilliant result considering that the Japanese car moved its first steps less than three months ago.
During the race day, Alain Menu and Stefano D’Aste have shared race victories at Suzuka, while Yvan Muller and Rob Huff collected the same number of points, making them both lead the standings.
In the first race, the Chevrolet trio pulled away, leaving Gabriele Tarquini to defend his fourth position from the attacks of a brilliant Alex MacDowall. The second race was even closer, with D’Aste chased by Pepe Oriola, Tarquini, Bennani and the Chevrolets that, for once, were not in the position to benefit from their superior power.
With Muller and Huff still on equal points, the fight for the Drivers’ Championship is getting hotter and hotter, while Chevrolet grabbed the Manufacturers’ title after Saturday’s qualifying.
The battle for the Yokohama Trophy is even closer. Oriola has reduced the gap from Norbert Michelisz to ten points, while D’Aste and MacDowell are only a few further points adrift.
The championship will resume in two weeks at Shanghai, on November 4, for Rounds 21 and 22.