World Touring Car: the end of an era

Jim Robinson

By Jim Robinson,
Metroland Media/Wheelstalk.com -

It has taken me a few months to write this, not because I’m lazy, but because of sadness.

Two weeks ago, the final race in the WTCC (World Touring Car Championship) ended in Macau with Rob Huff of the Chevrolet Cruze team taking the crown, and Chevy the manufacturer’s title.

Now the team has been officially disbanded with Chevrolet out and that means the entire team, the drivers and even the cars which were so dominant, it was news when Chevrolet didn’t win.

Earlier this year at Sear’s Point Raceway, I was the guest of Chevrolet during of the WTCC’s only North American stop.

And there along with Huff were the other two team drivers Alain Menu and Yvan Muller. Here were two of the finest tintop drivers in the world faced off after something like two decades at the top with no (at that time) contracts or plans for 2013.

The members of the Chevrolet factory team in the WTCC are from left: Rob Huff (2012 champion), Yvan Muller and Alain Menu.

Despite the cars being so good, Chevrolet at that time couldn’t find a buyer.

After Saturday practice, I sat around a little table with Menu and Muller with dinner being the kind of chicken wings and meatballs you get from President’s Choice.

I’ve loved these guys since I saw them back in the heyday of the British Touring Car Championship where there were no less than 10 brands competing literally wheel-to-wheel and fender-to-fender.

“It’s a contact sport,” Menu said recalling fondly the BTCC as “the best years of my life.”

I remember looking across at the expansive grandstand during practice and counting 23 people.

This is the engine in the Chevrolet Cruze WTTC team car. It is sealed and must last for the entire season.

I just shook my head.

Why the WTCC never caught on in North America is a shame. Organizers say they will be back at Sear’s Point for at least two more years.

I guess it comes down to money and TV coverage. No money, no interest by the networks and cable people.

I love Menu and Muller for everything they have done over the years providing real racing not those four-wheel computers in F1 and LeMans.

For me, that’s racing.

Eventual 2012 WTCC Champion, Rob Huff, shows off the high-tech steering wheel of his factory Chevrolet Cruze.

Chevrolet Cruze factory team member, Alain Menu, centre, talks about his racecar with the author, right.

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