Hyundai i30 N TCR customers all set for 2020 WTCR season
- WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup returns to action this weekend (September 11-13) with the first of six planned events across Europe
- A revised calendar will see the series visit Belgium, Germany, Slovakia, Hungary, Spain and Italy in the space of nine weeks
- Four Hyundai i30 N TCR cars will compete in every round with Norbert Michelisz, Gabriele Tarquini, Nicky Catsburg and Luca Engstler at the helm.
Five months after the planned start of the season, WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup will make its long-awaited return this weekend (September 11-13) with the Race of Belgium.
Six events are planned in a new-look calendar that spans just nine weeks. It will be an intense sprint to the finish for Hyundai Motorsport’s i30 N TCR customers with plentiful on-track action guaranteed.
Race of Belgium will take place at Circuit Zolder, before the series moves to Nürburgring for Race of Germany (September 24-26). Back-to-back events - Race of Slovakia (October 10-11) and Race of Hungary (October 17-18) - will be held at the Slovakia Ring and Hungaroring respectively. WTCR then visits Motorland Aragón for Race of Spain (October 31 – November 1) before the series finale Race of Italy at Adria International Raceway (November 14-15).
As restrictions have begun to ease, customers have been ramping up their efforts to prepare for the first race of the year. Four Hyundai i30 N TCR cars will compete as planned in the 2020 season, with reigning drivers’ title winner Norbert Michelisz and 2018 champion Gabriele Tarquini at the helm for BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse. Nicky Catsburg and Luca Engstler will represent Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team.
New circuits, an adjusted qualifying format and a revised compensation weight formula all add different variables to contend with, with teams and drivers also getting to grips with new tyre supplier Goodyear. 16 races in total are planned for the year; Belgium and Germany will hold two apiece, while the remaining rounds of the season will feature three races per weekend.
Customer Racing Operations Team Leader Andrew Johns said: “This weekend’s Race of Belgium marks the end of a stressful few months for all involved in WTCR. During that time we have worked closely with our customers in the series to make sure they are fully prepared to start the competitive season. With new tracks on the calendar and the change in regulations on top of the high level of competition in the series I am sure that the season will be as close and exciting as ever. However, I’m sure that our i30 N TCR customers can be at the front of the series again and add to the titles they have collected in both 2018 and 2019.”
Norbert Michelisz said: “It’s more than eight months since I last drove on a WTCR race weekend – I have really missed the competition. I enjoyed driving the Hyundai i30 N TCR in testing but it’s a different mindset, and since then I’ve wanted to be back behind the wheel racing against the usual suspects. I believe we’ve done our homework and I’m confident for the start of the season. As defending champion, the target has to be to win again. It won’t be an easy task, but I feel everyone is motivated to achieve that goal and we have a good line-up to compete consistently for race wins and podiums.”
Gabriele Tarquini said: “For sure this season will be different. The tyres are completely new and we haven’t tested alongside other competitors, so we won’t know how competitive our car is until the first race. With our new calendar, we’re racing at very good tracks in Europe. I’m particularly looking forward to my home race in Adria. The circuit is totally new to us, but I’m very happy to be back racing in Italy after a long time. After the great start in 2018 and fantastic season in 2019 for the i30 N TCR, I think we can compete at the front and try to win again.”
Nicky Catsburg said: “I’m really looking forward to getting back to racing. It’s been a long time since I last competed with a front-wheel drive – it was Race of Malaysia in December. I recently drove the car again at a test to reacclimatise. Zolder is a positive change in my opinion, it’s very close to my home and I know the track. I can’t wait to start working with Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team and to drive the i30 N TCR again.”
Luca Engstler said: “I would have loved to go to Salzburgring for the first race of the season, but since we knew we were going to Zolder I’ve been spending hours on the simulator to prepare. I feel very comfortable in the i30 N TCR and I can’t wait for the season to finally start. If I’m honest, it doesn’t matter to me where we go, I just want to race now and make my WTCR debut after such a long wait. I’ve trained hard, I will push hard, and I’m looking forward to jumping in.”