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FIA WTCC Newsletter 14
Posted by: newsla on Apr 04, 2014 - 05:37 PM
Sports Cars
FIA WTCC Newsletter 14

The tenth anniversary season of the FIA World Touring Car Championship kicks off next week at Marrakech for the first of twelve race meetings.


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The championship resumes five months after the 2013 season ended at Macau in a brand new format that is the consequence of a turning point in terms of technical regulations.

This resulted in a new generation of TC1 cars, that are faster and sexier compared to the TC2T that were raced until 2013 and will compete this year for the Yokohama Trophy.

Three major car brands have officially committed to compete in the 2014 Manufacturers’ Championship: Citroën, Honda and LADA. While the RML Group built a TC1 evolution of the Chevrolet Cruze that dominated the championship in the four previous years.

In Short...

Nine times World Rally champion Sébastien Loeb is arguably the most awaited driver. Motor sport fans and media are eager to see how the Frenchman will perform on his maiden WTCC races, facing some of the touring car toughest gurus who are led by his own team-mate at Citroën Racing Yvan Muller, the reigning champion who boasts four WTCC titles.

Two other world champions make the field: Castrol Honda Team’s Gabriele Tarquini who was crowned in 2009 and Rob Huff who clinched the title in 2012 and now joined LADA Sport Lukoil. These four men have collected fifteen world championships altogether.

There are many other strong competitors who will be aiming for stealing the limelight from them, such as former F1 podium finishers Tiago Monteiro (Castrol Honda Team) and Gianni Morbidelli (ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport) and WTCC race winners James Thompson (LADA Sport Lukoil), Tom Coronel and Tom Chilton (both ROAL Motorsport), Norbert Michelisz (Zengö Motorsport) and José María López (Citroën Racing).

The field is comprised of twenty cars: sixteen new TC1 machines and four in the TC2T class.

Besides the significant step forward in terms of the cars’ look and performance, the 2014 WTCC presents itself with some interesting new features in the Sporting Regulations.

With the maintenance of the top-ten reverse grid for the second race, the well established FIA point scoring system and the compensation weight for balancing the different cars’ performance, the major interventions were about start and qualifying.
The rolling start for Race 1 was dropped and now both races will have a standing start.

The Qualifying session was extended with the addition of a Q3 leg reserved for the top-five drivers classified in Q2; they will hit the track one-by-one and complete a single timed lap, to determine the first five positions on the grid for Race 1.

Tom Coronel had his first outing at the wheel of his Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 car during the ROAL Motorsport test at Adria International Raceway.

Tom Chilton continued to develop the RML-built car, following the test he had completed at Valencia a couple of weeks ago; the Briton was able to cover nearly 400 kilometres around the 2.7-km Italian track. At the same time Coronel moved the first steps in the new car.

“It was more a shake down with my race engine and I ran for less than 100 kilometres, with a lot of out-in laps. I would liked to have done more, because this is not enough with a new car. But the goal was to test the power, and the power is there! I was a bit concerned about managing the front-wheel-drive again after three years in the BMW. The feeling was good, though I don’t have an idea about the front tyre wear over the race distance. RML did a brilliant job with the basic set-up and I was very impressed by the way the aerodynamics works. It generates a real downforce, something you can compare to a Le Mans prototype. Which is unusual in a touring car. Now I’m going to Marrakech with more confidence that I expected…” said the Dutchman.

For Mehdi Bennani the opening event of the 2014 FIA World Touring Car Championship takes a special meaning. Not only it is run at Marrakech, but also marks his first appearance at the wheel of the new Honda Civic TC1 racing car.

“It is a very special event for me, because I am the only driver representing Morocco, Africa and Arabia in a motor sport World Championship. And on top of this, I have the luck that one event takes place in my own Country. Something that is not the case for many other drivers. And thank to the races in Marrakech, people feel interested and the WTCC is becoming more and more popular in Morocco.”

Yesterday Mehdi Bennani and Norbert Michelisz sat for the first time at the wheel of their new Honda Civic racing cars.
Assisted by JAS Motorsport technical staff and Honda factory driver Gabriele Tarquini, Proteam Racing and Zengö Motorsport completed a brief test at Tazio Nuvolari circuit located at Cervesina in Northern Italy. Thus was the only occasion Bennani and Michelisz had to drive their new cars before they are shipped from Livorno’s harbour to Morocco.

“It was a brief test, but I had a good feeling. Now I’m eager to drive the car on the streets of Marrakech,” Bennani commented.

The NIKA Racing team announced it will run a Honda Civic in the TC2T class of the 2014 FIA World Touring Car Championship.
The car will be driven by Japan’s Yukinori Taniguchi, who has been a regular in WTCC latest seasons and clinched the first Asian Trophy title in 2013. The Swedish outfit also had its best WTCC season last year, claiming three outright victories with Michel Nykjær.

Team principal Nicklas Karlsson said: “We are thrilled to remain in the WTCC. It’s with great pleasure that we are now looking forward to our new partnership with Honda. At the same time, I wish to thank Chevrolet for some truly unforgettable years. Chevrolet played an instrumental role in establishing our team on the international arena. But it’s time to look to the future and, as far as that is concerned, I’m glad to say that 2014 marks only the beginning of a very interesting journey…”

Eurosport Events, promoter of the FIA World Touring Car Championship has launched the WTCC facebook community.
All facebook pages related to WTCC – drivers’, teams’, circuits’, promoters’, etc – have now merged in this new community so that all members may share their interests and experiences.

The fast growing WTCC community is now quickly approaching to the five-million followers.

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