That’s it! I’ve finally done it. I’m writing to you as the new FIA World Touring Car Champion!
To be honest, I don’t think it’s really hit me yet. It was a massively busy and emotional week, and it probably won’t be until I get home and have a couple of days to reflect that it’ll really sink in.
I headed to Macau with a handy lead in the points over my Chevrolet team-mates Alain Menu and Yvan Muller, but I’ve been in the game long enough to know the job was far from over.
Things started well on Thursday and Friday. My Cruze felt good straight away and we turned that into pole position.
After Saturday’s customary day off (Macau isn’t your average race meeting), I finally got out there on Sunday morning for the opening race. That was when the drama started.
Having passed Yvan for the lead at Lisboa, I tagged a wall on Lap 4. Straight away, I knew my race was over. I limped back to the pits, feeling like I’d ruined everything.
But the RML guys got straight to work. Seeing everyone jump on the car reminded me, as if I needed any extra proof, that they’re the best team in the paddock.
It was a tense time leading up to Race 2, but the guys got the car repaired and I lined up ninth on the grid, knowing exactly what I had to do; finish no lower than sixth. I had that covered fairly early, and it was a matter of keeping my cool until the end.
A further incident ahead moved me up to second place behind Alain, and the race finished behind the Safety Car. It wasn’t really the way I wanted to wrap up the championship, rolling around at reduced speed, but having come so close before, I was just happy to get it done.
After the lows of the morning, the afternoon was a blur of joy, interviews and photos. I was speechless for most of it.
As you may already know, the weekend was Chevrolet’s last as a WTCC manufacturer with RML, so winning the championship had added significance. We’d already sewn up a third-straight Manufacturers’ Championship, but I really wanted to win the Drivers’ Championship.
The team took a gamble on me back in 2005, so I’m thrilled to have delivered.
Naturally, we all had a good night on Sunday, celebrating the 2012 season and Chevrolet’s time in the WTCC.
I’m about to head home and I’m sure I’ve got a big few months coming up. A champion’s work is never done!