Reigning World Touring Car Champion Yvan Muller had long since thrown his hat in the 2012 ring when the circus hit Valencia. Indeed, his third successive victory demonstrated this aptly. That his Chevrolet team-mate, Alain Menu, should step up with a hard-fought victory in the second race suggested Muller’s competition this season may be tougher than many expected.
In truth, Muller had walked race one. Having put his Chevrolet Cruze on pole position the day before – despite losing his fastest laptime to a mid-session steward’s decision – the Frenchman simply disappeared into the distance, easily edging a second per lap on his nearest rivals.
Former Champion Gabriele Tarquini may well have put his Lukoil SEAT Leon alongside Muller on the front row for the second race in succession, but the near-half a second performance margin between the two suggested that Muller only needed a clean start to secure the win. Such proved to be the case.
The real story of the weekend however concerned Menu. Having already battled his way up from ninth to fifth earlier in the day, the Swiss driver now lined up on the front row for race two, victory just one clean passing manoeuvre away.