Where we started. What we won. And how we’re planning to stay on top.
Starting our engines
“Competition is in our genes” is an expression commonly used at Chevrolet. It stems from our Swiss-born founder, Louis Chevrolet, who raced the cars he personally built over 100 years ago. Since then, our presence in motorsports has not only amassed prestigious victories, but also served as a proving ground for Chevrolet technologies and innovations.
In 2005, when the Chevrolet brand was relaunched in Europe, we entered the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) with a Lacetti sedan – and no previous experience. It was a bold move to show confidence in our products to the public, dealers and employees.
Developed by UK-based Ray Mallock Ltd. (RML), one of the leading world specialists in Touring, GT and Rally race cars, the Lacetti steadily scaled the learning curve against much more experienced competitors. On May 21, 2006, it clinched its first WTCC win at Brands Hatch (UK) with Alain Menu at the wheel. That same year, driver Rob Huff snagged another win at Brno (Czech Republic).
In 2007, the success of our WTCC Racing Team continued. We scored an impressive seven wins, five pole positions and four fastest laps to achieve the record of winning all new circuits and new street circuits that season.
With the Lacetti approaching the ceiling of its development cycle, we scored three more wins in 2008. Two of them were earned in the very last weekend in the street of Macau (China), where the car started from pole position.
After four full seasons, the Lacetti retired with an excellent record: 14 victories, 38 podium finishes, eight pole positions and nine fastest laps.
In 2009, we introduced our newest racing prodigy: the Cruze WTCC. The car was based on the new model launched at the 2008 Paris Motor Show. It scored five wins and three pole positions in its first year.
In 2010, RML continued as a partner to our racing program and its drivers Rob Huff, Alain Menu and Yvan Muller. We took both the FIA WTCC Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ titles with Yvan Muller at the wheel.
Last year, our all-star driver lineup hit the track running in a 2011 Cruze with a 1.6L turbo engine designed and developed from scratch by RML Chief Engine Engineer Arnaud Martin. Its results were beyond impressive – a staggering 21 wins in 24 races and every single pole position. The engine earned Martin the highly coveted Race Tech magazine Race Engine Designer of the Year award.
Staying on top
This year, all WTCC teams will be hitting the track with newly developed 1.6L engines. So the Chevrolet WTCC Racing Team is determined to step it up.
To help ensure endurance throughout the season, the award-winning WTCC Cruze engine was further refined to meet new FIA regulations prohibiting engine changes during the season. Cruze racers will also sport a new livery.
“We are looking forward to the new season with renewed vigor,” Chevrolet Motorsports Manager Eric Neve said. “Our objective is simple – win the Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ tiles for a third year in a row. We believe we have the means and drivers to do this.”
The 2012 WTCC season kicks off on March 11, 2012, at the Autodromo di Monza in Monza, Italy.
Alain Menu (CH)