The Chevrolet WTCC team will conclude today in Valencia, Spain the intensive winter tests program that the new Cruze WTCC has undergone ahead of its race debut in Curitiba on 6-8 March. The Race of Brazil will mark the kick-off of the 2009 World Touring Car Championship and of Chevrolet's fifth season in the pinnacle series of touring car racing.

Emotions are running high as the debut date approaches. Once today's session is completed, the cars will return to the RML factory in the UK for final preparation before taking the sea to Brazil. The race debut of the Cruze WTCC runs in parallel with the introduction in global markets of the road version of the Cruze, a new compact sedan, which strikes for its "four-door coupe" styling, its dynamic qualities, its upscale interior and its excellent value. The new model has already reached record sales figures in the first month it has been on sale in Korea.

This week's sessions in Valencia complete a cycle of tests that has seen the Cruze in action also in the UK and the Portuguese circuits of Portimão and Estoril since the start of 2009. Despite the changing weather conditions in Southern Europe this winter, the three-day test in Valencia was less influenced by rain and wind, allowing the team to perform the planned development work. This was mainly aimed at validating new aerodynamic solutions and optimizing set-ups and reliability in view of the first race.

This time, Alain Menu and Nicola Larini where at the wheel of the Cruze, which sported for the first time the definitive new racing livery, characterized by the energizing asymmetrical blue and white design that encapsulates the out of the box spirit of Chevrolet.

New Cruze - Larini

Nicola Larini: "It's a pity that in Valencia too weather conditions where not optimal, but the good news is that we could advance with the development work, testing different set-up packages for Curitiba, without encountering any major problem. It is always very difficult to judge your potential before the season starts, as you don't have any real reference about the competitors, and it is even more so when you are working with a brand new car, like the Cruze, but I feel that we are heading in the right direction".

New Cruze - Menu

Alain Menu: "We are progressing in learning more and more about the new Cruze and the car feels nice to drive. Still, testing time is never enough when you are working with a new car, especially when weather conditions do not help! For sure, there is still a lot of work to do and we are anxious to be in Curitiba, where we will know where we really stand vis-à-vis the competition."

Ron Hartvelt, Chief Race Engineer: "We are happy with the work we could achieve in Valencia. Out of the three days we spent here, only a few hours on day 2 were spoilt by the rain, this is much better than what we had in previous tests in Portugal!  We brought here two brand new cars, which had gone through their shake-down last week in the UK, and the main objective was to test the new aerodynamic package and the balance of the car. It was a positive three-day session, as we could perform some good mileage and obtain the information we expected".

Eric Nève, Motorsport Manager: "The last pre-season test always feels like the last inspection to your car before leaving for holidays with all the luggage and the entire family! So, we really hope that everything is under control, although we know we are only at the beginning of the development work. This last winter test was also useful to check a number of non-technical things, for instance how the car looks and how the new design and color scheme works once the car is on a racing track. It's always a key moment in the season, a moment when you hope real race conditions will validate all the work done".