Get in there!
As most of you are probably aware by now, I took my first win of the season in race two at the Slovakia Ring on Sunday.
As a result, I’ve closed the gap on my Chevrolet team-mate Yvan Muller to 27 points, and with 16 races still to come it’s well and truly game on.
As I mentioned last week, we were all on a level playing field going into the weekend, as it was the WTCC’s maiden visit to the new Eastern European circuit.
While I tried to learn as much about the track’s quirks as I could during practice, ultimately I struggled in qualifying, finishing seventh, my lowest result for quite some time.
Unfortunately, matters didn’t improve much in race one.
I made contact with a BMW on the opening lap, which put my car sideways, but I managed to keep the car under control and got it back on track without losing a place.
However, summing up my luck so far this season, I was then caught up in a collision between James Nash and ex-F1 racer Tiago Monteiro on the very next corner, and had to retire.
Once we’d gotten the Cruze back in the paddock, the team had about 12 minutes to get the car ready for race two.
It was tight, but the guys did an awesome job. I was out on the grid with 30 seconds to spare before race two began.
It was tense, especially since I’d still not completed a racing lap on the track, but I had the best start of my life, passing my team-mate Alain Menu, Pepe Oriola and pole-sitter Stefano D’Aste through the first two turns to grab the lead.
And as my fellow WTCC racers know, when I’m at the front, I stay there.
Yvan pushed me a couple of times, as you’d expect from a three-times champion, but I was in control and held on for the win.
It was a typical motorsport weekend, complete with highs and low, and I think I must’ve experienced every sensation available in Slovakia.
It was great to finally get the opening win, but I don’t have time to rest on my laurels with Budapest coming up this weekend. Thankfully my hard-working team has been at it again.
Within two hours of Parc Fermé in Slovakia, the car had been stripped out and sent on its way to Hungary.
And as I write they’ll be working hard on it. They’re perfectionists, and I know I’ll arrive in Budapest with a car worthy of taking me to victory.
Wish me luck, and enjoy the racing!