After a one-year break, the FIA WTCC returns to Monza for the third meeting of the season. The Autodromo Nazionale, Italy’s temple of speed and one of the best known racetracks in the world, used to be a traditional venue for the World Touring Cars.
It hosted the championship’s inaugural event back in 2005 and then continued to be home to the WTCC Race of Italy until 2008, only being replaced by Imola last year.
Now the 5.8-km circuit is set to open the European season and to once again be filled by a large crowd of enthusiastic Italian fans.
BMW and Alfa Romeo shared victories in 2005 and 2006 but the SEAT León TDI cars made the most out of Monza’s superfast layout and won all the four races held in 2007 and 2008.
On the last WTCC visit, Yvan Muller was the winner of the first race on his way to clinching the World Championship crown, while his SEAT Sport team-mate and reigning world champion Gabriele Tarquini won Race 2.
The FIA WTCC returns to Monza afte a one-year break
ARGENTINE DRIVER JOINS CHEVROLET AT MONZA
Argentine Touring Car star Leonel Pernía will drive a fourth Chevrolet Cruze LT in the WTCC Race of Italy, at Monza on May 23rd. He will be the first Argentine to race in the FIA World Championship.
The 34-year old driver from Tandil (Buenos Aires) has emerged as a top runner in the competitive TC2000 Championship in Argentina since 2006. At the wheel of a Honda Civic car run by Equipo Petrobras he claimed two race victories and in 2009 was vice-champion behind his team-mate José María López.
Chevrolet Motorsport boss Eric Nève explained: "It is a privilege for us to have Pernía at Monza. In our strategy towards conquering the WTCC title this year, it is useful to enter a fourth car in selected events, entrusted to drivers who have proven pedigrees in touring car racing. Moreover, the presence of Leonel can boost the visibility of the WTCC in South America and the image of Chevrolet in a key market like Argentina."
Pernía commented: "I am delighted to have the opportunity to race in the world’s top touring car championship and with a front-running team like Chevrolet. This is an unexpected and wonderful chance for me and I hope to contribute to the team’s success in Monza. I know the level in the WTCC is very high but I am confident that my TC2000 experience will prove useful."
Leonel Pernía is the first Argentine driver to join the WTCC
PRIVATE TESTS ON THURSDAY AND FRIDAY
Track action at Monza will start earlier than usual. In addition to the 30-minute test session on Friday afternoon that is always authorized by the FIA when a new track is visited by the series (which is the case, as Monza was not part of the 2009 calendar), the championship promoter agreed to the requests coming from private teams to organise further testing on Thursday. However, this will be reserved for the Independent and Rookie drivers only.
Seven 60-minute sessions have been scheduled, from 9:00 to 18:00. Four of them will also be opened to the competitors of the SEAT Eurocup.
COMPENSATION WEIGHT COMES INTO FORCE
The Compensation Weight system will come into force for the first time this season at Monza. The system determines the running weight of the WTCC cars on the basis of lap time calculation.
The best lap times of the two fastest cars of each model in qualifying and the two best lap times of the two fastest cars of each model in both races are averaged. The calculation is based on a three event rolling average, being applied after the first two events.
The compensation weight has been determined by the lap times set in Brazil and Morocco; the circumstances of the second race at Marrakech, with most of the laps completed behind the safety car, advised the Stewards to discard the second lap times set by the drivers in that race. As a consequence, the SEAT León TDI was indentified as the reference model and will receive a compensation weight of 40kg in addition to the minimum weight. The Chevrolet Cruze LT will be on the same weight as the SEAT, while the BMW 320si will be 40kg lighter and won’t have any compensation weight added.
As for the Chevrolet Lacetti it will have 20kg deducted from its minimum weight.
Compensation weight Monza
+ 40 kg SEAT León TDI, Chevrolet Cruze LT
± 0 kg BMW 320si
– 20 kg Chevrolet Lacetti
POULSEN AND FABIANI TO RACE AT MONZA
The number of BMW Independent drivers will increase in Monza with two additional competitors, Kristian Poulsen and Fabio Fabiani, joining the field.
The 34-year old Dane will start his WTCC campaign in Italy at the wheel of a BMW 320si car run by his own team Poulsen Motorsport. A former race winner in the Danish Touring Car Championship and a podium finisher in the 2007 and 2010 FIA European Touring Car Cup, Poulsen took part in last year’s WTCC with Liqui Moly Team Engstler, claiming his best result of 10th at Pau.
Fabiani, 35 from Italy, will drive Proteam Motorsport’s third BMW 320si car alongside team regulars Sergio Hernández and Stefano D’Aste. Fabiani, winner of the 2008 FIA Super Production Cup, made his first WTCC appearance in 2009 at Imola, also with Proteam.