Muller, Huff Split Touring Car’s U.S. Debut
SONOMA, Calif – Chevrolet drivers Yvan Muller and Rob Huff split the pair of World Touring Car Championship events at Sonoma Raceway Sunday, the first WTCC events ever held in the United States.
Muller and Huff completed a one-two sweep in race one after Alain Menu was forced out of the lead by technical problems, sustained after contact with Gabriele Tarquini at the start of the race.
Huff won race two after a drive-through penalty dashed Muller’s hopes of a double victory.
Race one saw a great start for the Chevrolet squads, which quickly took the first three positions. Polesitter Menu was ahead of teammates Muller and Huff, but the Swiss had to lift off as he developed a steering issue on lap four.
Menu was forced to the pits for repairs, losing four laps in the process. That handed the lead to Muller, who won by .564 second over Huff.
“Race one was tough, but I started well and then used every opportunity I had,” said Muller. “When Alain had the problem with the steering, I took the lead and focused on controlling the race. It’s a very nice feeling to win in America, the home of Chevrolet.”
Despite starting from the middle of the grid in race two, Muller and Huff quickly progressed to third and fourth position respectively after a couple of laps. With race leader Mehdi Bennani in a BMW spinning on lap four, the duo gained a position, but on lap five contact between Muller and Franz Engstler, also in a BMW, paved the way for Muller to take the lead.
The stewards, however, penalized Muller with a drive-through, effectively ending any hopes of a points finish and paving the way for Huff, who controlled BMW’s Norbert Michelisz’s attacks in the closing laps.
“It’s been a fantastic day here in Sonoma. I couldn’t have asked for more and the championship situation is now completely open again,” said Huff. “There was little I could do against Yvan in race one. I was struggling to follow him, but second was a good result. In race two, I was following Yvan again and then he was handed a drive through penalty, which was a lucky break for me.”