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World Touring Car Championship Brazil 2010: New favorite after the WTCC opening race

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World Touring Car Championship Brazil 2010
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Eric Nève is not a man of loud tones, Restraint is more his profession. On Friday before the season opener for the World Touring Car Championship in Curitiba, Brazil, the Chevrolet sports director stood with both feet on the brakes of euphoria: 'You can test as much as you want in winter. But you won't find out the truth until the race weekend, when the task force has to work out the best possible setup under time pressure and with little track time. ' When the weekend was over, it seemed clear: Chevrolet had made a powerful leap forward. The blues have almost surpassed the Seat diesels and clearly left BMW behind, which is all the more astonishing because the Bavarians are also starting with a two-liter naturally aspirated engine. The pole position of newcomer Yvan Muller and the triple victory in the first race catapult Chevy into the role of the title favorite. The rise of Chevrolet is due to persistent detailed work. No technical relief or special regulations of the FIA ​​are responsible for the quantum leap, as Eric Nève emphasizes. The FIA ​​has granted the front-wheel drive cars without diesel engines the 20-kilo weight reduction from the final races of the 2009 season, which of course benefits Chevrolet as the only top brand. The waivers from the first year with the Cruze model, such as the paneled underbody as compensation for the large frontal area, remained untouched. 'But we worked hard for the rest,' emphasizes Nève. The Chevy boys completed over 5,000 test kilometers in winter. The goal was to get the Cruze out of its moody. Last year it was sometimes good, then again very badly. The Chevy team's race results were like an elevator ride. You can't win titles like that, and after five years in the World Cup, winning the title is almost a must. 'Last year we were mainly occupied with understanding the new car in all its facets,' says driver Rob Huff. 'There was hardly any time for well-founded coordination work.' In 2009, for example, they drove with the same limited slip differential as in the Lacetti - but without working on the settings in detail. 'We have neither rear-wheel drive nor a turbocharger,' says sports director Eric Nève. 'That's why tuning is the key to success.'

The Chevy engine works better than the BMW engine

Ramp angle and differential preload - that isthe winter stories of the Chevy drivers. For this purpose, the suspension geometry was adapted and coordination packages worked out that should fit on different track configurations. Promptly, the Cruze were splendid both in the angled sections and in the long high-speed curves of Curitiba. Driving over the curbs also seems to be a feast for the Cruze, the notorious understeer of the previous year has been largely eliminated. In the Chevy Camp you only became a little silent when it came to the engine. The Chevrolet are now more competitive when it comes to top speed measurements and only lose marginally on the still lightning fast Seat Leon TDI. Officially, only the injection nozzles on the engine were changed, allegedly because the old ones are no longer available. Such explanations cause sleepless nights to opponents who read the top speed printouts. The fact is: the Chevy engine works better than the BMW engine. In the World Cup paddock in Curitiba it was even rumored that Chevrolet was not yet using all its reserves to lull its opponents into safety. The situation is still slightly confused at world champion Seat. The Spaniards actually left the World Cup, but suddenly there are more TDI-Leon at the start than ever before: The former Sunred team, which changed its name to SR-Sport, is now using seven vehicles. Can traces be more skilfully covered? The opponents suspect that all this is nothing more than a disguised factory effort. Already possible, because Sunred - excuse me: SR - has to cart around 60 people to each race, plus seven cars and material. It is unclear who pays the bills. Probably not the drivers.

Seat was still setting the tone on the straights in Curitiba

The World Cup is a manufacturers' championship

The only ones in the paddock who make no promises , come from the BMW camp. Neither winning the title nor losing the World Cup are the declared goal of the season. In this vacuum, Bart Mampaey's team in Brazil got badly under the wheels. Apart from a few test drives in which two clicks were turned on the damper for the 198th time, not much has happened on the BMW 320si. This explains the relatively clear relapse measured by the position of the opponents. Although the three World Cup marks were in two and a half tenths of a second in Curitiba's timed practice, this superficial arithmetic is misleading. Seat driver Tarquini as well as Chevy drivers Huff and Menu had to lift their lap times during the last storm run because of a slip by the Hungarian Norbert Michelisz and would have saddled up again by three tenths of a second. In this respect, the result of the first five in qualifying is the guideline: There three Chevy and two Seat cavorted in a tenth of a second. The fact that BMW has the potential to catch up is completely undisputed - after all, the Munich-based company still has so-called jokers for technical homologations up their sleeves. But that is exactly what it comes down to: Without further development, you will lag behind in the World Cup. BMW sports director Mario Theissen has repeatedly emphasized this logic: The World Cup is a manufacturers 'championship that must honor the factories' development efforts. But what to do if a work does not develop? Making the best of it? Bart Mampaey now has this ungrateful task on his cheek. The ambitious team boss from Belgium really wants to justify the trust placed in him. But he has the oldest car in the field, and on top of that, BMW’s remaining in the TW World Championship after 2010 is on very shaky legs. Standstill can germinate quickly. The strengths of the BMW are well known: thanks to rear-wheel drive, it is easy on the tires in the race, but that is of little help if you are fromMidfield placements starts. Rear-wheel drive also helps at the start, but this advantage was halved with the introduction of rolling start in run one.

BMW is world champion in fast lap times in free practice

In all other matters BMW is mediocre: The engine is reviled as weak in the paddock. Allegedly, there have been no significant updates for two years. In terms of top speed, Curitiba was six kilometers an hour behind. A sequential transmission would help to cure the defective gear connections due to the limited number of homologated rear axle ratios. But the BMW standpoint is as simple as it is naive: sequentially yes, but only without the weight disadvantage of 30 kilos anchored in the regulations. It is hardly likely that this idea will prevail at the FIA. The biggest problem, however, is poor qualification performance. With Andy Priaulx and Augusto Farfus, BMW installed two top drivers at RBM who were separated from each other by 26 hundredths of a second in Curitiba's timed practice. So you know exactly where you stand. Priaulx and Farfus had to start from sixth and seventh. The reason for the qualifying mishap has been known for a long time: BMW is world champion in fast lap times in free practice with used tires. But as soon as new tires are fitted, the competition in terms of lap times increases significantly more than BMW. In Curitiba, the Chevy drivers improved by an average of 1.2 seconds from the second free practice to qualifying, the Seat Stars by 1.1 seconds. BMW only managed to improve times by an average of 0.8 seconds. The reason is hardly to be found in the vehicle set-up, but rather in the design restrictions of the rear axle of the road car, which should also be responsible for the insufficient cornering grip.

BMW could tick off the drivers' title after three races

I In one sentence: The championship parallelogram of forces has evolved - and BMW has stopped. Last season teaches: Relying on the reversed starting order to win the second race is a defensive tactic that won't win a world title. Wailing doesn't help either, because the Seat boost pressure has been cut and Chevrolet is simply faster. And the routes where BMW traditionally looks bad are still to come: the next two races will take place in Marrakech and Monza after the Puebla cancellation. It wouldn't be surprising if the BMW drivers didn't even make it into the second qualifying segment there. Because the Seat privateers like Norbert Michelisz (see box) are not washcloths and can do themExecute diesel power for a quick lap without any problems. According to the current pecking order, seven Seats and three Chevrolets would be in front. If you follow this worst-case scenario, BMW could tick off the drivers' title after three races. And in the Manufacturers' World Cup, you have the worst cards per se with two cars. Chevy boss Eric Nève developed a plan for the title hunt in Curitiba: 'This year, because of the new points system, you have to be in the top field in every race. If you can't do that, you're quickly out of the window.'

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