The 2010 FIA European Touring Car Cup starts this week in Braga for the first of its three events.
After being held at a single event for the past five years, the ETCC will visit Austria and Italy after Portugal for the 2010 season.
The original schedule included an event in Oschersleben, Germany, on September 5th, but this was cancelled to avoid clashes with the national touring car series.
2010 FIA European Touring Car Cup – calendar
28th March – Braga, Portugal
25th July – Salzburgring, Austria
14th October – Franciacorta, Italy
SHORT STORY OF THE EUROPEAN CUP
The FIA European Touring Car Cup is reserved for cars complying with the FIA Super 2000, Super Production and Super 1600 technical regulations. Drivers‘ titles are awarded for each of the three categories.
The first event, held in Valellunga, Italy, on 16th October 2005 was won by Richard Göransson from Sweden in a BMW 320i (S2000) and Lorenzo Falessi from Italy in an Alfa Romeo 147 (SP).
The second event took place in Estoril, Portugal, on 22nd October 2006 and saw victories for Ryan Sharp from Scotland in a SEAT León (S2000) and Alexander Lvov from Russia in a Honda Civic (SP).
The third event, hosted by the Italian Adria Raceway, on 28th October 2007, Denmark’s Michel Nykjær (SEAT León) and Russia’s Aleksey Basov (Honda Civic) claimed the S2000 and SP titles respectively.
Nykjær (Chevrolet Lacetti) encored his S2000 victory at the Austrian Salzburgring, on 29th October 2008. Italian Fabio Fabiani (BMW 320i) was sacred champion in SP. S1600 cars made their first appearance and the title went to Ralf Martin from Germany in a Ford Fiesta ST.
Last year the ETCC visited Braga’s Circuito Vasco Samerio on October 25th. In rainy race conditions, James Thompson (Honda Acccord) won the S2000 Cup, while Marcis Birkens (Honda Civic) and Carsten Seifert (Ford Fiesta) were crowned in the SP and S1600 classes respectively.
A THREE-MANUFACTURER BATTLE FOR S2000
Although the number of cars has shrunk considerably compared to the previous years, especially because the smaller teams could not find the budget to afford to take part in the event, the level of the Super 2000 12-car field promises exciting and close competition.
In the major class, local drivers César Campaniço (BMW) and Francisco Caravalho (BMW) will face a strong international representation headed by the Honda cars of James Thompson and Tomas Engström that also includes a few FIA WTCC independents such as Kristian Poulsen (BMW) from Denmark, Marin Colak (SEAT) from Croatia and Ibrahim Okyay (BMW) from Turkey.
The strong Spanish team SUNRED Engineering will run petrol-powered SEAT cars for a couple of young and promising drivers, the 19-year old Russian Timur Sadredinov and the 21-year old Michaël Rossi from France.
A whole family will make the long trip from the far Ukraine: Leonid Protasov leads a trio of BMW cars, alongside his son Yuriy and his daughter Irina.
Drivers of three different manufacturers – BMW, Honda and SEAT – will be fighting on equal ground for the European crown.
2009 CHAMPIONS DEFEND THEIR TITLES
All three winners of the 2009 FIA ETCC titles are eager to defend their crowns.
In the Super 2000 class James Thompson is back at the wheel of the Honda Accord run by the Denmak-based Hartmann Honda Racing. The Briton, who will drive the same car in this year’s Scandinavian Touring Car Cup, is joined by the experienced Swede Tomas Engström, the only driver who has taken part in all the ETCC events from 2005 onwards. The pair is also due to make occasional appearances in the FIA World Touring Car Championship.
Latvian driver Marcis Birkens, who clinched the Super Production Cup last year in his SC Papa’s Racing Team Honda Civic, will be challenged by the BMW 320i of the previous winner Fabio Fabiani, who won the class in 2008.
In the Super 1600 class three Ford Fiesta cars will fight for victory, with reigning champion Carsten Seifert facing his German countrymen Jens Lhönig and Florian Heitmeier.
NATIONS CUP AWARDED FOR THE FOURTH TIME
In addition to the three FIA European Touring Car Cups for Super 2000, Super Production and Super 1600 drivers, the FIA Touring Car Nations Cup will be awarded for the fourth time. This title goes to the National Sporting Authority (ASN) whose drivers have scored the highest number of points in the two races.
The best two cars entered by competitors belonging to the same ASN will be taken into consideration for the Nations Cup’s classification.
The Nations Cup was awarded to the British Motor Sports Association in 2006 and 2009 and to the Dansk Automobil Sports Union in 2007 in 2008.
ONE QUALIFYING AND TWO 50-KM RACES
The format of the FIA European Touring Car Cup is based on the FIA World Touring Car Championship’s.
After three one-hour private test sessions on Friday, the actual event will start on Saturday with one 30-minute practice and one 30-minute qualifying session.
On Sunday two back-to-back 50-km races (17 laps) will take place, featuring a rolling start and a standing start respectively.
The grid for the second race will be determined by the results of the first race, with the first eight drivers classified placed in reverse order.
YOKOHAMA AWARDS 100,000-EURO PRIZE MONEY
At each of the three events, Yokohama, sole supplier of the control tyres for the FIA European Touring Car Cup, will award the competitors prize money of 100,000 euros.
Prize money will be split among the three categories: ? 70,000 to Super 2000, ? 20,000 to Super 1600 and ? 10,000 to Super Production.