Former BTCC and triple WTCC Champion Yvan Muller reckons he has a 'strong basis' going into the 2013 FIA World Touring Car Championship, despite only a brief two-hour pre-season test at Snetterton.
Muller was back on track this week for the first time since the last WTCC race of 2012 with Ray Mallock's now privately run Chevrolet Cruze's and testing alongside the Frenchman for the first time was Tom Chilton.
“So that was winter testing – it went quickly!” Muller told the official WTCC site. “That's the first time I've sat in the car since Macau, but the news is I can still drive! The Cruze handles well and it's great to be back behind the wheel. Despite limited running, we have a strong basis to work from and I hope we will keep some of that advantage."
Team-mate Chilton, who is new to the team and who raced for the now defunct Ford Aon squad in 2012, meanwhile got slightly more time behind the wheel as he ran at Brands Hatch as well as at Snetterton.
“It's everything I thought it would be – a very well put together car,” he remarked. “The balance is very neutral, which makes it forgiving. At the moment I am trying to work out how I can play with the car to understand the handling and set up. Small changes on the Cruze can make big differences, which is a sign of a great chassis. The car has had so much development over the years and it feels good. I'm really enjoying being out on track and I feel like I am moulding into the team well so far.”
RML Project Supervisor, Ron Hartvelt, added: “The two days have gone well without incident, although Brands Hatch was wet which gave us limited scope.
“At Snetterton we had invaluable time with Yvan in the car during the morning session, primarily concentrating on getting the car right to match the conditions here. It meant we had a solid base from which to hand the car over to Tom.
“The main objective for Tom was to learn how the car works. We were running as many laps as we could, trialling various changes so he understood how the car reacts and responds to his style of driving. The focus wasn't on lap times yet, that will come later, but it was important for Tom to overlay his data with Yvan to have a benchmark.”
by Dexter Fielding