The 19th and 20th rounds of the FIA WTCC will take place at Suzuka, Japan next week. This is the fifth consecutive visit of the World Championship to the Country of the Rising Sun. And the second to the Suzuka International Circuit that celebrates its 50th anniversary since it was built according to Soichiro Hondas will.
Unlike Formula One, that raced last week on the 5.8-km Grand Prix track, WTCC will run on the East Circuit that is 2.2-km long, but very fast. In terms of elapsed time, last years races were among the shortest ever in WTCC history.
With lap times barely exceeding the 54 seconds, the second race lasted only 21 minutes, while the first one had been four minutes longer because of a safety car intervention. For this reason it was decided to increase the race distance by four laps, from 23 to 27.
In 2011 Alain Menu (Chevrolet) and Tom Coronel (BMW) claimed one victory apiece in front of good crowd.
CHEVROLET CLOSE TO MANUFACTURES TITLE
Only a pocketful of points separates Chevrolet from winning a third consecutive Manufacturers Championship.
The American brand is currently leading the standings with a huge margin of 275 points ahead of BMW Customer Teams.
With a maximum of 95 points awarded per event and 285 still at stake, Chevrolet needs to score only 10 points at Suzuka to secure the title.
HONDA READY FOR DEBUT ON HOME SOIL
The Honda Racing Team JAS is ready to join the WTCC at Suzuka. Tiago Monteiro, who is given the honour and the responsibility to drive the Civic in its first appearances in the championship has completed the testing programme with two days at Sugo.
In this early stage of development and before finalizing the FIA homologation formalities, Honda decided to enter the car on the basis of the homologation document issued by the Swedish National Sporting Authority.
Therefore, the Civic has been accepted by the Touring Car Committee as per art. 10 C) of the WTCC Sporting Regulations that allows cars complying with the technical regulations of national championships to compete and score points for the Drivers Championship.
The Committee allocated the Honda a minimum weight of 1150 kg.
SEAT AND BMW CARS PUT ON WEIGHT
The Chevrolet Cruze remains the heaviest car according to the calculation based on the lap times set in the three previous events (Portugal, Brazil and USA) and will be laden once again with the maximum 40kg ballast.
SEAT León and BMW 320 TC will carry more weight compared to the previous event at Sonoma. The SEAT cars had their weight increased by 30 kilos, meaning that they will be only 10 kilos lighter than the Chevrolet. The BMWs weight was put up by 10 kilos, therefore the German cars will benefit from a 10kg reduction of their minimum weight against the 20 kilos of the Ford Focus and SUNRED León 1.6T.
The new Honda Civic will carry no ballast on its first outing in the championship.
Compensation weight Suzuka
+ 40 kg : Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T
+ 30 kg : SEAT León WTCC
± 0 kg : Honda Civic S2000
– 10 kg : BMW 320 TC
– 20 kg ; Ford Focus S2000, SUNRED León 1.6T (+20 kg, decision #40 TCC)
OYOUNG RETURNS TO BAMBOO-ENGINEERING
Darryl OYoung rejoins bamboo-engineering for the three remaining events of the 2012 FIA World Touring Car Championship season: Suzuka, Shanghai and Macau.
The Hong Kong racer will partner Alex MacDowall at the wheel of a Chevrolet Cruze car, returning to the team with which he made his WTCC debut in 2010 and where he spent two seasons before moving to Special Tuning Racing for 2012.
I am very close to the team and I am confident we can carry where we left off last year, he said. I know the car well and the engineers know my driving style, I also have a strong teammate in Alex MacDowall so these are the right ingredients to try and turn my season around in front of my home crowds in Asia. I have to thank bamboo for the opportunity to work together again and Ill do everything in my ability to succeed in the coming rounds.
YOSHIMOTO TO RACE WITH SUNRED IN JAPAN
Just like last year, Hiroki Yoshimoto will take part in the FIA World Touring Car Championship at Suzuka. And once again he will be at the wheel of a SUNRED León 1.6T, the car that was driven by Tiago Monteiro until the previous event at Sonoma.
In 2011, the Japanese driver was involved in a pile up at the start of the first WTCC race, he pitted for repairs and rejoined but was not classified. He then managed to finish the second race in 17th position.
In the current season, Yoshimoto is fighting for the Super GT title in the GT300 class. At the wheel of an Aston Martin Vantage shared with Kazuki Hoshino, he won the races of Suzuka and Autopolis and is lying second in the standings, only our points behind the leaders with one round to go.
RENÉ MÜNNICH JOINS STR FOR JAPAN
German Rallycross champion René Münnich will make his WTCC debut next week at Suzuka, driving for Special Tuning Racing
in the SEAT León WTCC car formerly entrusted to Darryl OYoung.
Besides being a very successful rallycross driver, with a tally of four German titles between 2007 and 2010 all at the wheel of koda Fabia cars, Münnich is also team principal of the Münnich Motorsport ALL-INKL racing team that have recently won the FIA GT1 World Championship.
It is a great pleasure to work with Special Tuning Racing. It is a good opportunity for me to get a hands on evaluation of the WTCC. As a driver this is a new challenge for me. I have never raced at Suzuka before. Luckily we are using the short circuit so that will give me the chance to learn the track quickly and get used to the car. Competition in the WTCC is of the highest level, so it will take some time to get used to it. And I also want to use this time to investigate the possibility for our team to join the championship next year, Münnich said.
EUROSPORT TV PROGRAMMES FROM SUZUKA *
Saturday, 20 October – 08.30/09.15 ; Qualifying LIVE (Eurosport 1)
Sunday, 21 October – 06.45/07.15 : Warm Up (Eurosport 1)
Sunday, 21 October – 07.15/09.30 : Races 1 & 2 LIVE (Eurosport 1)
Tuesday, 23 September – 23.15/23.45 : Inside WTCC (Eurosport 1)
* all times CET
BARTH REJOINS WTCC IN CHINA AND MACAU
Swiss racer Fredy Barth will return to the FIA World Touring Car Championship for the last two events of the season at Shanghai (November 4) and Macau (November 18).
Barth rejoins the WTCC one year after his 2011 campaign came to an abrupt end at Macau, when he escaped a dramatic crash at the Paiol bend during Fridays second free practice. His SUNRED León car caught fire and Barth, intoxicated for breathing the smoke, was taken to the hospital for medical checks.
Macau is a unique racetrack. I have mixed feelings of hate and love. I love it because is challenging, but on the other hand I never managed to finish a race there. It will be difficult trying to go fast despite last years accident. But this is part of being a professional driver and for sure I have to settle the score with the Guia circuit he said.
Barth returns at the wheel of a SEAT León WTCC, run by SUNRED Engineering under the banner of SEAT Swiss Racing.
Coming back to WTCC was my goal. And I am delighted we managed to achieve it. I will do my best and I know that my car, powered by the new SEAT turbo engine, is very competitive. Lets wait and see
A 30-CAR RECORD FIELD FOR WTCC IN MACAU
The 59th Macau Grand Prix that includes the final two rounds of the FIA World Touring Car Championship was launched Wednesday during a crowded press conference at Macaus Fishermans Wharf.
A number of local drivers have entered the seasons finale, meaning that the WTCC will feature a season record field of 30 cars.
Engineer João Manuel Costa Antunes, Coordinator of the Macau GP Committee stated: We are delighted that the FIA WTCC season will come to its end at Macau for the eighth consecutive year. Four races remain before drivers and teams arrive here and there is a good chance the outcome of the title chase will be decided on the Guia Circuit. And we are also very pleased to see that ten drivers from the region two from Hong Kong and eight from Macau will compete against the international aces, which is testament to how motorsports is coming of age across Asia. With Chevrolet going all out to ensure they exit the FIA WTCC on winning form, an exciting mix of young talent and seasoned professional racers, the FIA WTCC Guia Race of Macau Presented by SJM promises to be truly electrifying.