RML enjoyed a fine start to life as a privateer team in the World Touring Car Championship thanks a to double win in the season opener at Monza.
Despite the loss of factory support from Chevrolet after it decided to end its involvement in the series, the defending champions proved to the be the team to beat on track once again, with Yvan Muller in imperious form at the wheel of his Cruze 1.6T.
Having qualified on pole, Muller led the opening race from the front in challenging wet conditions to start his season in perfect fashion and then repeated the feat in race two to come through the field to take a second success of the weekend – giving him a maximum score and the championship lead.
“That was amazing – I couldn't see the cars or even the lights in front so it was very, very tough out there,” he said of the conditions. “That's one of the worst conditions I've raced in.
“From three weeks ago not knowing we'd be here to now, with maximum points – I have to say thank you to Lukoil, Aon and RML – they believed in the programme and now we are here, leading the championship.”
New team-mate Tom Chilton also enjoyed a solid start to his championship campaign as he qualified alongside Muller on the front row and then followed him home in race one to give the team a 1-2 finish and to secure his maiden WTCC podium.
Although unable to come through the pack in the same way as the Frenchman in race two, fifth place was enough to ensure he ended the weekend second to Muller in the championship standings.
“It's been an awesome weekend for me, slightly crazy with the weather, but so satisfying and exciting!” he said. “Race one ran perfectly and I am really happy with that second place. It's my first podium in the WTCC and I took fastest lap as well which is a great feeling; a real boost. Race two was much trickier, visibility was pretty much zero so it was a guessing game into the first corner. But I worked my way through the field and was hoping to close in on third over those final laps.
“I could see Basseng and Tarquini battling ahead and positioned myself so I was ready, just in case, but of course, I didn't want to get tangled up in anything either. It's a double points finish and I go to Marrakech in a really strong position.”