Teams are getting ready to hit the track for the fifth race meeting of the season that takes place this weekend at the Salzburgring in Austria.
Garages are a hive of activity while mechanics give the finishing touches to the twenty-three racing cars.
Track activity will kick off tomorrow with two 30-minute free practice sessions at 09.00 and 11.00.
The 30-minute qualifying session will follow at 15.00, with live streaming coverage on www.fiawtcc.com.
SEAT’S NEW RACER EXHIBITED AT SALZBURG
SEAT Sport continues in its commitment to motorsport and its customer racing teams. The Spanish brand exhibited its new racing car in the WTCC paddock this weekend at the Salzburgring.
The new León Cup Racer has been designed with one eye on the proposed technical evolution that the World Touring Car Championship will embrace from 2014 and gives a very clear indication of what a future SEAT touring car racer might look like.
The car is prepared for a wide range of racing series worldwide, beginning with the new SEAT Cup for which the León will feature a 330hp 2.0L turbo engine.
“We expect to be able to offer the León Cup Racer to our customer teams as early as the 2014 season. We can also envisage further development to create a WTCC version with a 1.6-litre engine. After all, we have a great tradition to defend in the world championship,” said Jaime Puig, Head of SEAT Sport and responsible for the brand’s motorsport activities.
WTCC General Manager Marcello Lotti commented: “I am very pleased to see that the new León Cup Racer embodies the look of the next generation of WTCC cars. Now we wish for the full WTCC version coming soon…”
HUFF TO COMMENT LIVE FROM THE COCKPIT
The reigning WTCC Champion, Rob Huff, will comment live on TV from his car this weekend, during the FIA World Touring Car Championship meeting at the Salzburgring in Austria. It’s planned that the live feed from Rob’s camera will be featured during the formation lap and in any safety car period during the races themselves.
In a first for the series, live audio from the driver will be available as well as the traditional live video feeds that make the WTCC so exciting for television viewers. Rob, driving one of the ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport SEAT León cars, will be able to describe the circuit to viewers as he completes the formation lap, while he will be able to give his reaction to any incidents that bring out the safety car.
Both races will be broadcast live on Eurosport on Sunday afternoon, with Race 1 starting at 12.50 CET and Race 2 at 13.50.
BOARDMAN TO SKIP AUSTRIA AND RUSSIA
Special Tuning Racing’s Tom Boardman will not be taking part in the Austrian and Russian rounds of the WTCC, this weekend at the Salzburgring and on June 9 at Moscow Raceway. The team have taken the decision to return the car to the UK so that they can work to fully fix and test following the crash in Marrakech in April.
The car was re-shelled after the accident back at the workshop in Forton, but the engine was fitted at the Slovakia Ring just prior to the races there. The new engine had issues that took the weekend to resolve. The car was still struggling for pace at the following round in Hungary, so after much thought it was deemed better to work to solve the issues in the workshop rather than on the race track.
John Boardman, Team Principal commented: “This is not a decision we have taken lightly, but after a couple of difficult and frustrating weekends trying to fix the car in racing conditions, I think the best course of action is to make sure the car is properly sorted and back to where we had it at the start of the season. We have the necessary tools to get the job done, and the best place to do this is back at base.”
The team will work now concentrate on preparing the car for the Porto round of the WTCC before completing the series in the overseas events.
FOR HAVEN’S SAKE
Eurosport commentator and touring car expert Martin Haven’s column.
Salzburgring preview – Under Pressure
Just as in Formula 1, tyres will be on everyone’s mind this weekend, as the FIA WTCC heads to Austria and a second visit to the Salzburgring.
Last year, the weekend looked as if it was shaping up to be a Chevrolet benefit. The factory Cruze cars were ultra-fast on the high-speed track, which nestles in a beautiful, verdant, river valley. Rob Huff led a qualifying 1-2-3 for the blue machines, with nearest rival Gabriele Tarquini 7 tenths of a second adrift, in his SEAT León.
There was little anyone could do about the speed of the Chevrolet trio in the hot, sunny conditions. They steamed to a 1-2-3 result in Race 1, Huff leading his team-mates home in grid order, covered by barely two car-lengths, after a race spent soaking up the pressure from Yvan Muller. Tarquini finished where he’d started, in 4th, but almost three seconds behind, while the best of the BMW cars – Tom Coronel’s and Norbert Michelisz’s – were over 7 seconds adrift in 8th and 9th.
So far, so normal; and Race 2 looked as though it would follow a broadly similar pattern, although Tom Coronel (2nd) and Stefano D’Aste (4th) fancied their chances of leading for a while from the reversed top-ten grid. And so it proved, the Dutchman heading the Italian away from the start, their BMW cars running 1-2.
It took a lap and a half for Yvan Muller (from 9th on the grid) to catch the leading duo. He breezed past them both, Rob Huff following him to make it a Chevy 1-2. On the long back straight, there was simply no way of holding off the Cruzes, who pulled out and passed with ease.
By lap 7, an all-blue 1-2-3 had been established and it looked as if another podium sweep was on the cards. But then all hell broke loose…
As he swept into the ultra-fast right-hander after the back straight, Alain Menu suddenly speared off the outside of the track, slamming into the barriers at almost unabated speed. Before the dust had even settled, he was joined by bamboo-engineering hevy driver Alex MacDowall, who also careered off into the gravel trap at high speed.
Was there oil on the track? Had one of the lead duo dropped fluids?
The answer came almost immediately, TV replays showing Menu’s tyre had simply exploded. The tyre just couldn’t withstand the punishing combination of high track temperatures (50+ degrees) and sustained, high lateral loads. Suddenly, it was clear that – like in Monza – the camber angles required at the front of the cars to make them handle precisely were working far too much heat into their Yokohama tyres.
Muller was next to go, the Frenchman’s car slowing dramatically, as his tyre blew. Huff swept by, Coronel and D’Aste all over him but somehow, Rob managed to hang onto the lead for the remaining laps, fending off the BMW cars.
Until the last corner of the race.
Then Huff, too, punctured. Coronel was jammed right under the Chevy’s tail, unable to dive to the inside, as D’Aste swept around the outside of them both to snatch a surprise win.
Cooler weather in practice, lack of familiarity with the track and a Safety Car in Race 1 that allowed the tyres to recover, all helped to paint a false picture of wear issues. Race 2 starkly highlighted the problems.
It’s safe to say that, this year, whatever the weather, teams will be more conservative with their set-up. The front-wheel-drive cars, especially, will need to carefully monitor tyre temperatures, ensuring pressures and cambers don’t over-work the rubber.
As ever, the BMW teams will be hoping for scorchingly hot weather. And Stefano D’Aste will be trying to make sure an outside line is always available – just in case…
PERGUSA TO HOST ETCC ROUNDS 7 AND 8
It will be the Autodromo di Pergusa, in Sicily, that will host rounds 7 and 8 of the 2013 FIA European Touring Car Cup on July 14.
The 4.9 km circuit that runs around a volcanic lake near the historical city of Enna has a long standing tradition as a venue for international racing; a tradition that dates back to the Sixties.
Pergusa’s most important event was the Gran Premio del Mediterraneo, that began as a Formula One non-championship race between 1962 and 1965, before switching to Formula 2 (1966 to 1984) and then to Formula 3000 (1985 to 1998). Some of the world’s best racing drivers ever have entered their name in the event’s roll of honour, such as Bandini, Surtees, Siffert, Stewart, Rindt, Regazzoni, Lafitte, Boutsen, Moreno, Coulthard and Montoya.
In recent years Pergusa hosted the FIA Sportscar and GT championships, but also the FIA European Touring Car Championship in 2002 and 2003 (in the picture).
“We are very pleased to return to Pergusa,” said ETCC General Manager Marcello Lotti. “We have good memories of our previous visits. This is an old-fashioned circuit that requires drivers to be brave, especially in jumping at full speed over the kerbs in the chicanes. I am confident they will provide some close racing there.”
Autodromo di Pergusa President Tullio Lauria echoed: “This is another step forward in our effort to re-launch the circuit. For a couple of years we have been treating Sicily’s enthusiastic fans to important international events such as the ETCC."
PETR FULÍN TOPS ETCC TEST SESSIONS
Petr Fulín, the current leader of the Super 2000 category in the ETCC, set the fastest time in both of today’s one-hour testing sessions at the Salzburgring, emphasizing that, once again, the he should be the man to beat in Sunday’s two races.
Fulín was also the only driver to beat the 1:31.000 barrier in both sessions, setting a best lap time of 1:30.887 in the first and 1:30.845 in the second. European hillclimbing champion Dušan Borković set the second fastest lap (1 :31.204), with Fulín’s team-mate Michal Matějovský third fastest (1 :31.691).
In the Single-Make Trophy, the honours were shared between Mario Dablander (1:32.137) and Aurélien Comte (1:31.712) in the two sessions, while it was a similar story in Super 1600. The reigning S1600 title-holder Kevin Krammes was fastest in Testing 1 (1:42.219), with the Citroën C2 VTS of Erwin Lukas (1:42.948) posting the best lap time in Testing 2.
The first session was red-flagged after the BMW of Christian Fischer impacted the barrier at Turn 10. Following examination at the circuit’s medical centre and then X-rays at Salzburg hospital, Fischer has been ruled to be unfit to compete on Sunday and his entry has therefore been withdrawn.