A delegation from Team Aon visited the WTCC event at Shanghai Tianma last weekend. Arena Motorsport principal Mike Earle, his commercial partner Grahame Chilton and BTCC race winner Tom Chilton had meetings with WTCC promoter Marcello Lotti and Jost Capito, director of Ford Global Motorsport Business Development.
"We are going ahead with our WTCC preparations," commented Earle. "We have built a Ford Focus to S2000 specifications and we will start testing with Tom Chilton before the end of this month. As an Independent Constructor, our team preparation for the 2012 WTCC season is enabled through the S2000 development support from Ford."
Grahame Chilton added: "Our aim is to build a three-car team and besides Tom we are in touch with a number of prospective leading touring car drivers with international experience, with the aim being to launch a team that is competitive from the outset."
Lotti commented: "I am obviously excited by the fact that a new and glamorous brand with worldwide commercial interests may become involved in the championship. I’m also pleased that the programme will be run by such a professional team and will involve a young and promising driver like Tom who emerged from a competitive national championship like the BTCC. This addition will provide WTCC with further competition and appeal."
From left: Mike Earle, Marcello Lotti, Tom and Grahame Chilton
ROUTE TO MACAU FOR THE LAST STOP
The clock is ticking for the 2011 FIA World Touring Car Championship as next week the strong field of 27 competitors will hit the track for the last two races of the season.
For the seventh consecutive year the final and deciding act will be staged on Macau’s infamous 6.1-km Guia street circuit. On Sunday 20th November two nine-lap races will consecrate the 2011 World Champion.
In the previous six appearances of the World Touring cars at Macau, BMW and Chevrolet have won five races apiece out of twelve, against one each for Alfa Romeo and SEAT.
In last year’s event Rob Huff won Race 1, claiming his third victories on the Guia track, while in the second race Norbert Michelisz scored his first ever (and only so far) WTCC win.
Local hero André Couto, in a SUNRED León 1.6T, will try once again to match Jörg Müller’s record of being the only driver to have won both the Macau F3 GP and Guia Race.
The 2011 WTCC will come to an end next week on Macau’s Guia Circuit
MULLER AND HUFF FACE LAST SHOOTOUT
It is a tradition, WTCC title fight always goes to the wire for Macau’s grand finale.
This year it’s up to Chevrolet team-mates Yvan Muller and Rob Huff to clash in the deciding shootout oh the streets of the Chinese city.
They both face the final battle with reasons of being optimistic. Muller has built a 20-point lead with 50 still to be awarded, but Huff has claimed three race victories on the Guia circuit, while his archrival still has to break his duck here.
"The title fight will be settled in Macau and it doesn’t matter by how many points I am currently leading." said Muller who might be crowned WTCC champion for the third time, matching Andy Priaulx’s record.
Huff, who is aiming for his first WTCC title, echoed: "Obviously I’m not very happy for how things went in Shanghai, but let’s see what happens in Macau."
POULSEN DEFENDS YOKOHAMA TROPHY LEAD
Colin Turkington dominated the Yokohama Trophy at Shanghai, but Kristian Poulsen stretched his lead in the standings.
Turkington set pole position, won both races, posted the fastest lap twice and gave to the Wiechers-Sport team their best WTCC result ever with a second place overall in Race 1.
"It was a fantastic weekend for me. Wiechers-Sport and WSR have done a great job working together, which not an easy thing to do when you have only two racing events for learning to get along," said the Irishman who pocketed the maximum of 23 points against Poulsen’s 16.
The Dane collected two second places that enabled him to stretch his lead to 23 points ahead of Norbert Michelisz. Double points will be awarded in the season’s finale at Macau and with 43 still at stake, three other drivers still have theoretical chances of clinching the title: Michel Nykjær, Franz Engstler and Javier Villa who lie 29, 30 and 35 points behind respectively.
BMW AND CHEVROLET ON SAME WEIGHT
The BMW 320 TC cars will be as heavy as the Chevrolet Cruze for the championship’s final at Macau.
According to the calculation of the compensation weight based on the lap times set in the three previous events (Valencia, Suzuka Shanghai) the 0.3-second gap between the Chevrolet and the BMW means that they both will be carrying 40 kilos in addition to the minimum weight of 1150 and 1170 kg respectively. At Shanghai the BMW ran with 20 kilos less.
The SUNRED León will be laden again with a 10-kg compensation weight, while the Volvo C30 will lose 20 kilos compared to the Chinese event and will run on the minimum weight of 1150 kg. The only model allowed to a weight reduction will be again the BMW 320si (-20kg).
Compensation weight Macau
+ 40 kg BMW 320 TC, Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T
+ 10 kg SUNRED SR León 1.6T
± 0 kg Volvo C30 Drive
– 20 kg BMW 320si
LO KA CHUN ENTERS IN MACAU GUIA RACE
The 778 Auto Sport team entered a Peugeot 308 car in the WTCC Guia Race of Macau. The French car, that was previously raced by Johan Stureson in the 2008 and 2009 Swedish Touring Car Championship, will be driven at Macau by Lo Ka Chun.
The 34-year-old from Hong Kong is one of the most successful saloon car drivers in the Asia Pacific region, having claimed four titles in the Asia Touring Car Series (1999, 2000, 2002 and 2004), one in the China and Hong Kong Touring Car championships (2006 and 2009 respectively) and three consecutive victories in the Macau Cup Race (2002/2004).
In the latest seasons Lo Ka Chun has driven KIA cars in the CTCC, winning a number of races – including last weekend’s in the WTCC event at Shanghai Tianma – and always finishing on the championship podium (third in 2009 and 2010, second this year).
"I’m very excited to make my first appearance in WTCC at Macau. The original plan was to race at Shanghai too, but we had to give up because of logistics issues," he said.
LOCAL DRIVERS LOOK FORWARD TO HOME RACE
Nine out of the 27 WTCC drivers entered in the WTCC finale are locals, either from Macau, Hong Kong or Mainland China: Darryl O’Young, Charles Ng, Philip Ma, André Couto, Filipe de Souza, Mak Ka Lok, Jo Rosa-Merszei, Kuok Io Keong and Lo Ka Chun.
Bamboo-engineering’s O’Young, the only one who competed in the whole season, said: "Macau is my favourite race and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a shame I’m out contention for the Yokohama Trophy title, but I will do everything I can to win in front of my home crowd. Chevrolet has a history of WTCC success at the Macau and I hope to use all the experience I have gained from this season to be successful at home."
Charles Ng has only joined at Suzuka with DeTeam Engstler Motorsport. However, on his second appearance he was able to score his first point last week at Shanghai. "I did not expect this on my first outing in the BMW 320 TC that I had never tested. Especially after I went off in qualifying and had to start from the back of the grid. Carrying forward the momentum, the team and I have come up with a plan for Macau and we expect to finish in the top ten again. I grew up watching racing in Macau and it has been my dream to be able to race against the world’s best drivers. Now the dream of my life comes true!"
GARY KWOK TO RACE FOR WIECHERS-SPORT
Canadian racer Gary Kwok was the last addition to the WTCC entry list for the Macau event.
Kwok, 45-years old, started racing in 1987 in Hong Kong and since then raced in Thailand, Hong Kong, Macau, Canada and the USA.
In the three latest years he competed in the Canadian Touring Car Championship at the wheel of Honda Cars. During the current season he won three races to be classified fifth in the standing with a Civic Si.
"I’m absolutely delighted to join the WTCC in Macau. This is a prestigious, world class motorsports event and Wiechers-Sport are a very capable team. Macau is my favourite circuit and my first appearance in the world championship with a new car makes everything more challenging. But I love challenges!" Kwok said.
COUNTDOWN: – 9 DAYS
WTCC GUIA RACE OF MACAU – MACAU, NOVEMBER 20