Alain Menu is one of the most successful touring car drivers of the 1990s, winning the prestigious British Touring Car Championship twice. Currently racing in the World Touring Car Championship.Other links relevant in this story:
Alain Menu was born in Geneva and is one of the most successful touring car drivers of the 1990s, winning the prestigious British Touring Car Championship twice (the only driver during the series' 1992-2000 "golden age" to do so). He currently races for Chevrolet in the World Touring Car Championship.
Like many drivers who eventually build a career in touring cars, Menu began his career in single-seater racing, reaching the International Formula 3000 championship in 1991 after three years in the British Formula Three championship (in which he finished runner-up in 1990). However, for the next year he returned to Great Britain to race a BMW 3 Series in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC), showing promise before being injured mid-season in a quadbike accident at Knockhill; despite only participating in half of the season, he still managed to finish 9th in the final championship standings.
In 1993 Menu began a six-year association with Renault in the BTCC, who had just entered the series with the Renault 19. The first year of their partnership was not particularly successful, with the 19 little better than a midfield runner in the hands of Menu and reigning champion Tim Harvey. However, Menu did manage to win one race at a rain-soaked Donington Park late in the season. For 1994 the 19 was replaced by the Renault Laguna, which proved to be a much better package all-round. Menu was championship runner-up for 3 years in succession, between 1994 and 1996. He finally took the crown in a dominant car in 1997, taking 12 wins. After a disappointing 1998 season, Menu switched to Ford, winning a second title in 2000 against team-mates Anthony Reid and Rickard Rydell. 2000 was to be the last year of the BTCC in its present form; the championship had been gradually in decline and losing entrants since 1997, with 2000 only featuring 3 works teams and 12 championship contenders, as opposed to the 9 teams and 20+ championship contenders in 1995. The championship was reformed for 2001 with new regulations, but only two manufacturers committed to the series, and Menu, like most of the drivers, chose to leave the series.
From 2001 to 2003, Menu raced for Opel in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters, a high-tech touring car series based in Germany. However, he achieved little success (Menu would describe his DTM years as "not very good" in a 2004 interview). While competing in the DTM, he ventured into sports car racing with Ferrari, competing in both the Le Mans 24 Hours and the Sebring 12 Hours as well as winning one race each in both the FIA GT Championship and the American Le Mans series.
In 2004, Menu announced his return to touring car racing, with the fledgling Chevrolet team in the 2005 World Touring Car Championship. Menu, and his equally highly-regarded team-mate Nicola Larini, did not expect to win races in their first year but the team's performance was still seen as a big disappointment, Menu only achieving three points finishes, his best result being a 6th at Spa-Francorchamps. The team had expected to make progress up the grid in 2006, and their faith was fulfilled at a very wet Brands Hatch on May 21, when Menu won the second race of the day, scoring Chevrolet's first-ever outright win in a FIA-accredited world championship event.