Drivers Yvan Muller and Rob Huff are separated by just 17 points as the FIA World Touring Car Championship slams into the Sonoma Valley, Sept. 21-23.

This marks the first visit to North America for the WTCC, which races in exotic locales including Japan, China, Macau, Italy and Brazil. The series features a 12-race schedule for the 2012 season.

Muller has dominated the series in recent years and is seeking his third consecutive driver’s championship piloting a Chevrolet Cruze. He has seven victories this season and is certainly one of the favorites to win in Sonoma, a circuit at which he has never competed. Sonoma is the ninth stop on the 2012 WTCC schedule.

“I am really looking forward to coming to Sonoma,” Muller said on a recent visit to Sacramento for a media event. “I hear it is a very technical and challenging track. It will be good to bring the WTCC to the United States.”

Muller, from France, has competed in the WTCC since 2006 and has finished no lower than fourth in the standings. He has 28 career wins, including seven this season.

Huff (United Kingdom), meanwhile, is in a familiar spot, chasing Muller for the championship. He sits just 17 markers behind his Chevrolet Cruze teammate with three wins this season (21 for his career). Huff is seeking his first driver’s championship in the series; he finished second behind Muller in 2011. He got married in late August to his new bride, Jasmine, in Cambridge (England).

Switzerland’s Alain Menu (250 points), Italy’s Gabriele Tarquini (162) and the Netherlands’ Tom Coronel (150) round out the top five.  Menu drives a Chevrolet, Tarquini a SEAT and Coronel a BMW.

At the last WTCC event, in Brazil, Muller and Huff posted victories. The Sonoma race weekend will also feature two main events, both on Sunday. Each event will be a 13-lap sprint race. Racecars are full-fendered and feature four-cylinder, 1.6-litre engines with a six-speed sequential gearbox and Yokohama tires.

In addition to the WTCC, the race weekend will also feature the United States Touring Car Championship, Auto GP Championship and the Maserati Trofeo World Series. For ticket information, call 800-870-RACE (7223) or visit