by Russell Atkins

Alain Menu is adamant he would have been in strong contention for the 2007 World Touring Car Championship laurels, had it not been for suffering at the receiving end of his rivals' over-exuberance on too many occasions throughout the campaign.

The Chevrolet RML front-runner ultimately wound up sixth in the drivers' standings, 23 points adrift of eventual champion Andy Priaulx and a ten-place improvement on his 2006 ranking. What's more, Menu triumphed on no fewer than five occasions during the season - whilst no other driver bettered three - and an unchallenged pole position and race one victory in the Macau finale went to show what might have been, had Lady Luck only smiled on him a little more frequently.

"I'm very pleased," the 44-year-old told Radio. "We've had a great season with Chevrolet and RML, with seven wins [for the team]. I got the most poles and most wins, and the last round in Macau was great for me - I got pole and then won race one.

"The lap I got in qualifying there was a very good one, and what's good for me as well is that I won all three street races - in Pau, Porto and Macau - so personally that's a nice little record to have.

"The low points have been the number of times I got taken off, mainly in race two. That cost me a fight for the championship. I went to Macau without any chance of winning, and if I had been a little bit less unlucky this season I think I would have been able to go to Macau still with a chance of being world champion. That was the downside of the season, but really it's been fantastic, and now we'll see what next year brings.

"[The team] did such a great job last winter for 2007. I'm sure they can find a little bit more [for 2008]; it's not going to be the same step as from last year to this, but we're going to try very hard to win."

Indeed, the Swiss star even found time for a brief return to the British Touring Car Championship - a series in whose history he sits equal third in the all-time race-winners list - to aid VXR Racing ace Fabrizio Giovanardi's title challenge in the final meeting at Thruxton. Though he admitted to enjoying the experience, Menu said it was doubtful he would make a full-time comeback to the championship he dominated in both 1997 and 2000.

"That was nice," he reflected, "because I hadn't raced in the BTCC for seven years. It was good to drive for Vauxhall; Thruxton is one of my favourite tracks in the UK; Ian Harrison - the boss of Triple Eight - was my team manager at Williams-Renault for the first two years and he's a good friend; and the chief mechanic there was my number two mechanic at Williams too, so it was good to see old friends. I met so many people in the paddock who I hadn't seen for years - it was a great weekend.

"I want to stay in the WTCC, though, and I'm not getting any younger - I don't think I've got another 15 years in me! I'll probably end my career in the WTCC, but having said that, who knows? You never know in motor racing..."



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