Yvan Muller: “I just have to do my best and see what happens”

Yvan Muller goes head-to-head with his 2009 championship rival Gabriele Tarquini tomorrow for the first WTCR – World Touring Car Cup drivers’ title, after today’s results mean it’s now just the two drivers in contention.

Muller made a perfect start in his YMR Hyundai i30 N TCR in Race 1 to take the lead from Rob Huff in his Volkswagen on the way up to Lisboa, helped with a tow from the Audi RS 3 LMS of Jean-Karl Vernay behind him, who opted to jump into the Frenchman’s slipstream at Mandarin so he could also get past Huff’s car.

Unfortunately for Muller, an early safety car meant he was a sitting duck to the Audi at the restart, which had incredible pace in the first sector, and Vernay took the lead and went on to victory, leaving Muller to finish second.

Muller’s title rival Gabriele Tarquini finished fourth in his BRC Racing Team Hyundai, and minimised the damage, though the Italian starts 14th for both of tomorrow’s races, while Muller will start fifth and sixth, giving him a good opportunity of closing further.

Just finishing where starts won’t be enough, and assuming Tarquini fails to score, Muller needs to at least finish on the podium in both races in order to take the title from the Italian’s grasp.

“There are not many scenarios, I just have to do my best, and then we’ll see at the end what the result is,” said Muller to TouringCarTimes.

“There are still a lot of points ahead to him, so I will drive as hard as possible and try to avoid any troubles, and then we’ll see.

“I didn’t expect to do a better start than Rob, but fortunately I was able to be alongside him into Turn 1, and fortunately Jean-Karl was behind which gave me some extra speed and that gave me the speed to take the lead.

“But after the safety car, I couldn’t keep Jean-Karl behind; I had two options, I could close the door, but it was a big risk and I could lose maybe two or three places at Mandarin, so I chose to let him pass and just put pressure on him to try and get him back under pressure, but he was too good.”