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MUNDIAL - WTCR JÁ NA CHINA

Sábado, 22 Setembro 2018 06:27 | Actualizado em Quinta, 13 Agosto 2020 03:15


 
Event preview: FIA WTCR Race of China
WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO

Rounds 19-21 of 30, Ningbo International Speedpark, 28-30 September
Rounds 22-24 of 30, Wuhan International Street Track, 5-7 October
 
GOLDEN TIMES AHEAD AS CHINA PREPARES FOR DOUBLE ACTION FROM WTCR OSCARO RACERS
 
*Ningbo and Wuhan events book-end China Golden Week celebrations
*WTCR OSCARO visits world’s largest car market for two race weekends
*Wuhan gets set to host first FIA touring car event on exciting street track
*Home-grown hero Ma to battle WTCR OSCARO title-chasing drivers
 
The WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO is back on track in China next week with the first part of a double-header that could begin to shape the outcome of the inaugural title battle that has produced 11 different winners from 18 action-packed races.
 
Gabriele Tarquini is three points in front of fellow touring car titan Yvan Muller with Norbert Michelisz, Yann Ehrlacher and Jean-Karl Vernay close behind. However, with 12 races over four weekends remaining, all drivers on the grid at the Ningbo International Speedpark from 28-30 September have a mathematical shot at championship glory, such is the wide-open nature of WTCR OSCARO season one.
 
Not one but two events: WTCR does the double in China
WTCR Race of China-Ningbo will be followed one week later by WTCR Race of China-Wuhan. Dubbed the ‘Detroit of China’, Wuhan is a major car manufacturing hub and is gearing up to host world championship motor racing for the first time. While Ningbo is a purpose-built race circuit, Wuhan offers an intriguing prospect. A temporary street course around the city’s sports stadium complex, Rob Huff is the only WTCR OSCARO regular with experience of the layout and even that was prior to its lengthening for this year, making the weekend an exciting level playing field.
 
Can Ma deliver magic at home?
Ma Qing Hua, the first Chinese driver to win an FIA world championship motor race, is gearing up for his debut in the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO at Ningbo. The 30-year-old from Shanghai has been called up to drive a Honda Civic Type R TCR for Boutsen Ginion Racing in place of teenage talent Benjamin Lessennes. Ma will also be in action at WTCR Race of China-Wuhan one week later and is expected to be a contender for honours.
 
Scheider set for WTCR debut, Ceccon returns
Germany’s Timo Scheider, a two-time DTM champion, is set to make his first WTCR OSCARO appearance in China after being signed by ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport to drive its third Honda Civic Type R TCR for the Asian leg of the championship. Meanwhile, having impressed Team Mulsanne with WTCR OSCARO points on his debut in Slovakia in the summer, Italian promise Kevin Ceccon will continue to partner Fabrizio Giovanardi for the remainder of the season in an Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR by Romeo Ferraris.
 
New era goes from strength to strength
With a rulebook designed to promote corner-by-corner overtaking, a packed grid featuring four world champions and a host of national and international touring car title-winners, an abundance of young stars, ex-Formula One drivers and seven customer racing brands, the stage is set for a thrilling China double-header. In an intriguing twist, WTCR – the new name for the FIA World Touring Car Championship from 2018 – gets three races per weekend, plus a second shot at the DHL Pole Position Award due to the scheduling of not one but two qualifying sessions. There’s also the ground-breaking TAG Heuer Most Valuable Driver award, which goes to the racer scoring the most points during a weekend, plus the TAG Heuer Best Lap Trophy. In addition to live global television coverage, Race 1 will be shown live in selected territories on Facebook and at wtcr.oscaro.com – website of the WTCR Series Presenting Partner partner and the world’s leading online retailer of original automotive spare parts.
 
They said what? WTCR drivers look ahead to China
 
Kevin Ceccon (Team Mulsanne, Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR by Romeo Ferraris): “These races are a really good chance for me and I’m really happy. I have been a lot of times to China as a driver instructor and driver coach but I have never seen Ningbo or Wuhan, only Shanghai and a small go-kart circuit around Beijing, so everything will be new for me there. I only drove Monaco as a street circuit but I did three race weekends there and got two podiums so I love street circuits and I’m excited for Wuhan.”
 
Esteban Guerrieri (ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R TCR): “I won the first race at Ningbo in 2017 but it was quite crazy in the wet conditions with a new track that we didn’t know what to expect from. Qualifying was quite intense with a wet track and I remember we had to sort the tyre pressures and that it was very important to have a spot-on set-up for the race. It’s a very technical track and in 2017 it was new asphalt so no grip and that meant it was difficult to find the limits. Because you have a lot of corners that are connected one after the other, if the car is washing away at the front it’s difficult to point it in the direction you want to go so you need a good front end. There are a lot of corners at this track so hopefully Honda can be strong and the races should be fun because are a few places where you can overtake.”
 
Rob Huff (Sébastien Loeb Racing, Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR): “Wuhan is a very interesting, high-speed, and quite short, tricky little street circuit. As with any street circuit, there’s no run-off room at all. There’s quite a few changes in Tarmac, some of it is brand new, and some of it is much older and more aggressive. There’s a lot of bumps and a lot of undulation, but with the typical high-speed corners you’d get on a street circuit. Last year I started the reversed-grid race in eighth and came back to finish second behind my Volkswagen team-mate, which shows there’s a potential for overtaking. But as with all street races, it's still quite difficult. The WTCR races should be very exciting, and a new challenge for the field, since the track is very different to the street circuits we've had so far, such as at Marrakech and Vila Real.”
 
Ma Qing Hua (Boutsen Ginion Racing, Honda Civic Type R TCR): “I am really happy to be racing in my home country. It’s really good to be in this series, even though I don’t know the car and have not had one lap at either of the circuits. I’m also jumping in at the middle of the season when everybody else will have a lot more experience than me. It will be tough with only two practice sessions before qualifying but I really enjoy fighting with drivers like Rob Huff, Gabriele Tarquini and Yvan Muller and really enjoy the competition. I would like to thank everybody for this opportunity, I really appreciate it. I will take it step-by-step and do my best to finish the races to get the maximum track time possible.”
 
Gabriele Tarquini (BRC Racing Team, Hyundai i30 N TCR): “Like the previous races I will approach each event race by race because everything can happen. At some race weekends I scored more than 60 points, at other weekends I had three zeros. It is easy to have a strange weekend and to lose a lot of points. The best thing is to be concentrating on points every race. It’s important to score 20 or 25 points per weekend, this could be very important until the end of the season. There are three races each weekend and the gap is small. Other drivers will join the title battle, not just me and Yvan [Muller].”
 
Jean-Karl Vernay (Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team, Audi RS 3 LMS): “I’m 36 points behind, which is a victory pretty much, so I believe I can still win the title. For sure I don’t know Ningbo and I don’t know Wuhan but I can adapt myself really, really quickly – we are always really quick at the beginning of the weekend. I am more or less the only Audi driver able to fight for the title, so for sure I will have the support of my team and this is definitely going to be important. I’m really happy with the season until now and really proud of the performance of the team and the work of everybody. We are just missing a little bit of experience with the tyres and we need more front grip [because] we have a lot of tyre degradation. We are working on [developing the car]. We are still learning [but] I’m really proud of Audi and WRT. There is no pressure, just full attack and let’s see.”
 
Five to watch
1 Norbert Michelisz: Hungarian hero Michelisz reckoned his long-awaited maiden WTCR OSCARO victory was the catalyst to him getting his title challenge back on track. The China double-header provides the perfect opportunity to do just that.
2 Mehdi Bennani: Moroccan maestro Bennani has history when it comes to winning in China following his maiden World Touring Car Championship success in the country in 2014. Following a tough recent run, the Sébastien Loeb Racing man will be gunning for an upturn in form.
3 Pepe Oriola: The Team OSCARO by Campos Racing driver entered the summer a winner after his breakthrough success in Slovakia. Expect another top performance from the Spaniard.
4 Norbert Nagy: A podium finisher in Slovakia, more giant-killing will be the aim for Zengő Motorsport’s Hungarian prospect.
5 Aurélien Panis: Frenchman Panis is overdue a big result in WTCR OSCARO. Could the trip to China mark the turning point for Comtoyou Racing’s Audi-powered driver?
 
Essentials
All you need to know about WTCR Race of China-Ningbo: Click here for the event guide, timetable and other essential information
All you need to know about WTCR Race of China-Wuhan: Click here for the event guide, timetable and other essential information
Who’s in it to win it? Click here to find out more about the WTCR drivers
WTCR explained? Click here to find out more
Standings: Click here to find out who is in front after the opening three races
For everything else… Go to the online WTCR Media Centre by clicking here
 
Ningbo in 100 words: Located in Chunxiao in the rapidly-expanding Beilun coastal development near Ningbo – a major port and industrial city with a population of more than seven million – in Zhejiang province, the track opened in time for WTCC Race of China in October 2017 following more than a year of construction work at a cost of 950-million CNY (122 million euros). Around 500 people were involved in turning what was a disused quarry into a state-of-the-art venue, which is built to FIA and FIM Grade 2 standards. It runs in an anti-clockwise direction, is between 12-18 metres in width and features 21 turns.
 
Wuhan in 100 words: WTCR OSCARO will visit the largest car market on the planet not once but twice in 2018 with Wuhan following Ningbo as part of the China double-header. The challenging street track is a popular fixture on the China Touring Car Championship calendar and is located adjacent to a major sports stadium complex. The capital of Hubei province and 900 kilometres east of Shanghai on the banks of the Yangtze River, Wuhan is a major transportation and industrial hub. It’s home to several car manufacturing plants including Honda, Hyundai and Peugeot, plus an expanding population of more than 15 million people.
  
Key timings:
WTCR RACE OF CHINA-NINGBO
28 September: Free Practice 1: 12h40-13h10; Free Practice 2: 15h20-15h50
29 September: First Qualifying: 11h00-11h30; Race 1: 15h30 (13 laps)
30 September: Second Qualifying Q1: 09h00-09h20; Second Qualifying Q2: 09h25-09h35; Second Qualifying Q3: 09h40 (first car starts); Race 2: 14h20 (13 laps); Race 3: 15h40 (16 laps)
 
WTCR RACE OF CHINA-WUHAN
5 October: Free Practice 1: 13h00-13h30; Free Practice 2: 15h30-16h00
6 October: First Qualifying: 10h30-11h10; Race 1: 16h00 (18 laps)
7 October: Second Qualifying Q1: 09h00-09h30; Second Qualifying Q2: 09h35-09h50; Second Qualifying Q3: 10h00 (first car starts); Race 2: 15h45 (18 laps); Race 3: 17h05 (21 laps)
 
Who’s on the grid?
World Touring Car champions: Thed Björk, Rob Huff, Yvan Muller, Gabriele Tarquini
WTCC Trophy winners: Mehdi Bennani, Tom Coronel, Norbert Michelisz
WTCC race winners: Yann Ehrlacher, Esteban Guerrieri, Ma Qing Hua, Pepe Oriola 
British Touring Car champions: Fabrizio Giovanardi, Gordon Shedden
DTM champion: Timo Scheider
TCR title winners: Aurélien Comte, Jean-Karl Vernay
Young racing hopefuls: Kevin Ceccon, Denis Dupont, John Filippi, Mato Homola, Norbert Nagy, Aurélien Panis, Zsolt Szabó
International racers: Nathanaël Berthon, Frédéric Vervisch
 
Weekend format explained
In a major change to the previous WTCC race weekend format, each WTCR OSCARO event will consist of three races – an increase from the previous two plus an additional qualifying session. The points allocation has been changed as follows:
 

Race

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

SQ

5

4

3

2

1

0

0

0

0

0

R1

27

20

17

14

12

10

8

6

4

2

R2

25

18

15

12

10

8

6

4

2

1

R3

30

23

19

16

13

10

7

4

2

1

Key: SQ = Second Qualifying; R1 = Race 1; R2 = Race 2; R3 = Race 3
 
WTCR Race of China in numbers
10: Just 10 of 25 drivers contesting WTCR Race of China-Ningbo have previous experience of the track. However, that’s nine more than will have driven in Wuhan…
12: China is the world’s largest car market with 12 million cars sold in the country in the first half of 2018, a four per cent rise compared to the same period last year. In comparison, 8.6 million cars were sold in the USA up until July of this year.
2.984: At 2.971 kilometres only Circuit Moulay El Hassan is shorter than the 2.984-kilometre Wuhan street course.
705: Ningbo and Wuhan are 705 kilometres apart, which equates to a flight time of 1hr50 minutes.
54,357: When they take to the streets of Wuhan, the WTCR OSCARO drivers will be racing under the backdrop of the Zhuankou Stadium complete with its capacity of 54,357.
 

ENDS
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FIA WTCR Media Centre


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