The historical circuit of Donington Park will host the WTCC for the first time next week. The event featuring the championship’s 13th and 14th rounds will also kick off the second half of the season that will come to an end in Macau on November 20th.
Before visiting the Leicestershire racetrack, the WTCC Race of the UK had homes in Silverstone (2005) and Brands Hatch (2006 to 2010).
However, Donington Park is not a new venue for the FIA touring cars, as it hosted the European Championship three times between 2002 and 2004. The score in those six races was four wins for BMW (Jörg Müller 2, Dirk Müller and Andy Priaulx), two for Alfa Romeo (Gabriele Tarquini and James Thompson).
Since then the circuit underwent a number of renovations that included the erection of a new pit building with modern facilities.
The WTCC event will be the first FIA World Championship meeting at Donington since the 1993 F1 European Grand Prix.
Andy Priaulx won the last FIA ETCC race at Donington Park in 2004
TURKINGTON AT DONINGTON WITH WIECHERS-SPORT
German outfit Wiechers-Sport clinched a sensational last-minute deal, signing 2009 British Touring Car Champion and WTCC race winner Colin Turkington for the British event at Donington Park.
After delivering a great show in Porto with Stefano D’Aste, who led the second race for a couple of laps, the team was forced to replace the Italian driver because of a previous commitment.
Team manager Dominik Greiner commented: "I’m happy we signed Colin for the British event. He knows the track very well and I’m confident that with him we may continue on our positive upward trend that began last week in Porto with Stefano D’Aste who was leading a WTCC race for the first time in the team’s history."
Turkington returns to the World Championship after an impressive 2010 season in which he claimed four podium finishes out of ten races, also inheriting his first WTCC victory in the second race at Okayama after Augusto Farfus was excluded because of a technicality. This year Turkington is taking part in the Scandinavian Touring Car Cup where he currently lies sixth.
‚I am delighted with this opportunity. It’s great to be back racing in front of my British fans on such a fantastic circuit like Donington Park. I have raced there many times in a BMW but this will be my first experience with the new 1.6 turbo engine. I’m really excited to see how this performs and I’m confident we can deliver a strong performance," said the North Irishman.
Colin Turkington returns to WTCC after claiming his first win in Japan last year
BMW AND VOLVO LOSE WEIGHT IN DONINGTON
The BMW 320 TC and Volvo C30 cars will be granted a weight reduction for the next WTCC event at Donington Park.
According to the calculation of the compensation weight based on the lap times set in the three previous events (Hungary, Czech Republic and Portugal) the Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T will be carrying again the maximum weight of 40 extra kilos.
The BMW 320 TC cars will be 20 kilos lighter, 10 kg less than in Porto, while the compensation weight is applied for the first time to the Volvo, after the Swedish car ran with 40kg of extra weight in Brno and Porto, the first two events in which it was fitted with the new 1.6-litre turbo engine. Thus Dahlgren’s Volvo, just like all the other cars – SUNRED SR León 1.6T, Dudukalo’s SEAT León TDi and Fabiani’s BMW 320si – will benefit from a 20kg reduction on its maximum weight.
Compensation weight Donington Park
+ 40 kg Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T
+ 20 kg BMW 320 TC
– 20 kg BMW 320 si, SEAT León TDi, SUNRED SR León 1.6T, Volvo C30 Drive
THE SEAT TDI LEAVES THE WTCC STAGE
Aleksei Dudukalo is the last of the SUNRED drivers to switch from the SEAT Le ón TDi to the SUNRED León 1.6T that he will drive from the Donington Park event.
This change marks the exit of the Spanish turbo diesel car from the WTCC stage the boards of which she trod for five years, from the 2007 event in Anderstorp, claiming 32 race wins and making motor sport history for being the first diesel car to win FIA World Championships (2008 with Yvan Muller and 2009 with Gabriele Tarquini).
And besides securing to world titles, the Muller-Tarquini duo also marked the beginning and the end of this outstanding machine’s racing career, as the Frenchman claimed her first win at Oschersleben in 2007 and the Italian the last one, two-and-a-half months ago at Zolder.
The SEAT León TDi claimed her last WTCC victory in Zolder earlier this year
ROB HUFF AIMING FOR FIRST HOME VICTORY
Rob Huff arrives to his home event at Donington Park as the Drivers‘ Championship leader. In the first half of the season the Chevrolet man has built up a comfortable lead of 29 points ahead of his team-mate and reigning world champion Yvan Muller.
And there is more. Huff has won six of the twelve races held so far, already matching the record of victories in one season established by Augusto Farfus in 2009 and equalled by Andy Priaulx in 2010.
However, he has never won a WTCC race on the British soil. although he was close to do it, especially in 2008 when a blown tyre stopped him on the last lap when he was leading Race 1 at Brands Hatch.
"My home record is not too bad – with three podiums – but I miss a victory and I think it’s just time I take one. However, my goal remains to win the championship this year, we’ve had a great start to the season and my priority in Donington will be to score as many points as possible, which is more important than a race win. I can’t wait to race in front of my home fans! Their support will be very important and I hope they will cheer for me as much as the Portuguese and Hungarian fans did for Tiago Monteiro and Norbert Michelisz," Huff said.
MICHELISZ TAKES LEAD IN YOKOHAMA TROPHY
With two victories in the Yokohama Trophy at Porto, Norbert Michelisz stole the point leadership from Kristian Poulsen who experienced his worst weekend of the season.
Michelisz collected 21 points out of the possible 23, adding pole position and leaving only the race fastest laps to Javier Villa and Mehdi Bennani.
"It was an almost perfect weekend for me. I collected enough points to take the lead in the Trophy and also some important points in the overall championship that enabled me to move up to the seventh position," said the Hungarian racer.
In the Yokohama Trophy classification Michelisz has a 5-point margin ahead of Poulsen, with Villa in third, a further 5 points adrift.
Michel Nykjær and Franz Engstler were the drivers who scored more points in the weekend after Michelisz: 11 for the Dane and 13 for the German. They are now fifth and sixth respectively in the overall classification.
VILLA DROPPED BY FIVE GRID POSITIONS
Proteam Racing’s Javier Villa will be dropped by five positions on the starting grid for Donington’s Race 1, because of the penalty that the Panel of the Stewards imposed to the Spanish youngster for having caused the incident that eliminated Fredy Barth and Aleksei Dudukalo during the first race in Porto. Villa received an additional penalty of 10-grid positions that will remain suspended for the events in the UK and Germany.
Other drivers under threat of suspended penalties of 10-grid positions are Norbert Michelisz and Mehdi Bennani. The former following the accident at the start of Budapest’s Race 2 (the penalty is suspended until Donington), the latter because of his collision with Stefano D’Aste at the end of Race 2 in Porto (the penalty will remain suspended until Valencia).