The eighth season of the 2011 FIA World Touring Car Championship will come to an end next week at Macau, where twenty-nine drivers from thirteen different countries will clash on the 6.1-km Guia street circuit.
On Sunday 18th November, two nine-lap races will consecrate the 2012 World Champion.
There is no doubt that Rob Huff is the great favourite in the title fight, and not only because he is currently leading the standings. The 32-year old Englishman is also the WTCC driver with the best record in Macau, having claimed five race wins in the last four years, including back-to-back victories in 2011.
During the previous event at Shanghai, Huff has built a comfortable margin ahead of his Chevrolet team-mates Alain Menu and the reigning champion Yvan Muller.
The Macau event will award 55 points (25 per each race, plus 5 for the pole position) and Menu and Muller must recover 35 and 41 points respectively. Not an easy task, although anything may happen on the treacherous street circuit.
Menu has proved in the past that he is fast in Macau, where he won two races in 2007 and 2008; Muller whose hopes to clinch a fourth WTCC title have been seriously jeopardized in China has never managed to win a race in the former Portuguese protectorate.
SEAT LIGHTER, BMW HEAVIER IN MACAU
The weights of the SEAT León WTCC and BMW 320 TC cars will change for the final event in Macau. The Spanish machines will benefit from a 20-kilo reduction, while the Germans will receive 20 kilos more compared to Shanghai.
The Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T remains the heaviest car according to the calculation based on the lap times set in the three previous events (USA, Japan and China) and will be laden with the maximum 40kg ballast.
While SEAT and BMW will run with 10 and 0 kilos of compensation weight respectively.
Three other model cars will race with no extra weight: Chevrolet Cruze LT, Chevrolet Lacetti and Honda Accord Euro R, as they make their second appearance in the current season.
The BMW 320si, Ford Focus, Honda Civic and SUNRED León 1.6T will all be benefiting from a 20kg reduction of their minimum weight.
Compensation weight Macau
+ 40 kg : Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T
+ 10 kg : SEAT León WTCC
± 0 kg : BMW 320 TC, Chevrolet Cruze LT, Chevrolet Lacetti, Honda Accord Euro R
– 20 kg : BMW 320si, Ford Focus S2000, Honda Civic, SUNRED León 1.6T (+20 kg, decision #40 TCC)
THREE-WAY TITLE FIGHT FOR YOKOHAMA TROPHY
The Yokohama Trophy awards double points in Macau, meaning that a maximum score of 43 will be possible: 20 per each victory plus one for pole position and fastest laps.
This results in the title fight being still wide open, as the current leader Norbert Michelisz has a 12-point margin ahead of Pepe Oriola, while Stefano DAste is only four further points adrift.
Of the three contenders, Michelisz is the one who has collected the best results at Macau in the past, where he claimed an overall race win in 2010.
All other drivers are no longer in contention, but may become a factor as some of them wish to end the season on a high, like Alex MacDowall, Franz Engstler and Mehdi Bennani who are currently fourth, fifth and sixth in the points. Or Darryl OYoung, who is looking for his first home victory after he claimed two consecutive Yokohama Trophy pole positions in 2010 and 2011.
In the Teams Trophy, ROAL Motorsport defend an 18-point lead from Lukoil Racing Team, while Tuenti Racing Team lie a further 12 points adrift. The points still at stake are 72.
FOCUS WTCC ROAD CAR TO LEAD THE PACK IN MACAU
Team Arena will launch a Ford Focus WTCC
Limited Edition road car in Macau on Sunday 18th November. The car will be the official Leading Car for the World Championship finale.
The Focus WTCC Limited Edition, fitted with a Mountune Performance specially-developed 1.6 turbocharged engine and Team Dynamics alloy wheels to match those on the WTCC racing car version, has been developed by Arena and will be built at their UK base. Further information will be announced in Macau including full specification and price details.
Marcello Lotti, General Manager FIA WTCC: I like this project, because it is a new marketing tool that may be used to promote the brand, the product on sale to the general public and also the championship. The WTCC is happy to invite the Arena team to take it to Macau where it will be the official Leading Car. We are very pleased with the fact that Arena has committed to build a limited edition of the Ford Focus WTCC road cars. Especially because previous similar initiatives have been successful with the fans, although limited to the European market, while this one will benefit from a global distribution.
Mike Earle, Arena Team Principal: I am thrilled that the FIA WTCC has not only endorsed the new Focus WTCC Limited Edition road car, but has also invited us ahead of its formal launch to take it to Macau where it will be the official Leading Car. I would like to personally thank the series General Manager Marcello Lotti for his help in bestowing this great honour.
COUTO BACK WITH WTCC IN MACAU ONCE AGAIN
Macau star driver André Couto will take part once again in the WTCC event in his home town. Couto has joined the World Touring Car Championship races in Macau every year from 2005, except in 2007.
The winner of the Macau Grand Prix in 2000, Couto has raced different WTCC cars Alfa Romeo, Honda and SEAT claiming his best result with a SEAT León in 2006, when he finished seventh in Race 2.
This year like in 2011 he will be at the wheel of the SUNRED León 1.6T car previously driven by Tiago Monteiro and Hiroki Yoshimoto.
COZZOLINO JOINS ROAL MOTORSPORT IN MACAU
Change of driver at ROAL Motorsport for the seasons final race meeting at Macau. Kei Cozzolino will replace Alberto Cerqui at the wheel of the Italian teams second BMW 320 TC car.
Cozzolino, was born and resides in Japan but his nationality is Italian. He faces his maiden appearance in touring car competitions after his precious experiences in the Japanese Formula 3 and Formula Nippon championships.
The 25-year old driver was classified fourth in the 2009 F3 series, scoring one race victory, and took part twice in the Macau Grand Prix in 2008 and 2009.
A STRONG CONTINGENT OF MACAU DRIVERS
Eurico De Jesus, Mak Ka Lok, Jo Rosa-Merszei, Henry Ho Wai Kun and Célio Alves Dias are the latest additions to the strong contingent of eight local drivers in the WTCC Guia Race of Macau.
De Jesus will be at the wheel of a Honda Accord car run by the Five Auto Racing Team; crowned Macau Touring Car champion in 2010, he won the Macau Fortuna Trophy race in 2003 and the Macau CTM Cup race in 2006.
Mak, Ho and Rosa-Merszei have made occasional appearances in the WTCC in the past; they will all race in BMW 320si cars entered by RPM Racing, Ho Chun Kei and Liqui Moly Team Engstler respectively.
Alves Dias will be at the wheel of a Chevrolet Lacetti run by the China Dragon Racing; he will join the teams other two drivers Filipe De Souza (also in a Lacetti) and Ng Kin Veng (Chevrolet Cruze LT) who have competed last week in Shanghai.
EUROSPORT TV PROGRAMMES FROM MACAU *
Friday, 16 November – 08.25/09.15 : Qualifying LIVE (Eurosport 1)
Sunday, 18 November – 01.15/01.45 : Warm Up LIVE (Eurosport 1)
Sunday, 18 November – 03.55/06.00 : Races 1 & 2 LIVE (Eurosport 1)
Sunday, 18 November – 22.45/23.45 : Races 1 & 2 (Eurosport 1)
Tuesday, 20 November – 23.15/23.45 : Inside WTCC (Eurosport 1)
* all times CET
ORIOLA VISITS HIS ADOPTED SISTER IN NEPAL
Pepe Oriola took the opportunity during his stay in Asia, between the races in Shanghai and Macau, to visit his adopted sisters at the Vistare Foundation in Kathmandu, Nepal.
The Foundation runs a house-school that hosts 48 girls; Pepe himself is the sponsor of Kala Rai, while twelve other girls benefit from the Oriola familys sponsorship.
This was the Spaniards first visit to Nepal, Oriola met the principals and teachers of the centre that helps girls with few resources to continue in their academic education.
The work the Vistare Foundation is doing is especially praiseworthy, because they give these girls the opportunity to be educated and build themselves a future, said Pepe who also visited rural and underprivileged areas of the region and the Puntshok monastery.