In a surprise last-minute move, reigning World Champion Rob Huff has joined the ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport for the
2013 WTCC season.
The Briton will defend his title at the wheel of one of the German squad’s three SEAT León WTCC cars, joining 2012 GT1 World Champion Marc Basseng and team principal René Münnich. Huff replaces Markus Winkelhock who was originally announced as part of the line-up.
“Rob’s arrival is a big boost for our ambitions. We want to be at the front of the field right from the beginning, aiming for podium results and race wins. Our goal is a top-three placing in the Drivers’ Championship,” Münnich said.
For Huff, this means going back to his racing roots, as he clinched the British SEAT Cup title in 2003 before becoming a race winner in the British Touring Car Championship at the wheel of a SEAT Toledo.
“It will be quite special to compete in the WTCC with the León and a team that carries the highest amount of professionalism. I’m delighted to join René and Marc, this is an exciting newly-formed project, but the team have a huge reputation having previously won the FIA GT1 World Championship in 2012. I’m very thankful for the opportunity that I have been given and look forward to building on this relationship,” said Huff who had his first test with the team Wednesday and Thursday at Slovakia Ring.
MORE TESTING FOR LADA SPORT AT MAGNY-COURS
LADA Sport Lukoil underwent their second track test of the year, at Magny-Cours again, from Monday to Thursday. The team were focusing on race set-up and checking the car’s technical systems.
On Monday morning, the melting snow on the tarmac limited the activity of James Thompson and Aleksei Dudukalo to a few laps only.
The team had more luck on remaining three days, when dry conditions offered the opportunity of having an intensive testing schedule.
Thompson commented: “We tried some fundamental things that were a step in the right direction. One of the Granta’s strong points is the small size that results in a good drag. Potentially, if we are able maximize this, we can achieve excellent top speed. The car is also very nimble in the changes of directions and slow corners. So far the overall impression is positive, but we have some more interesting technical solutions to try.”
Dudukalo said: “It was my first time in the car and also my first visit to Magny-Cours. I really liked the Granta. Is a pretty fast car and reactive to the adjustments. I managed to adjust it to my driving style, and felt the changes. So it makes me confident. That was also my first time with my new racing engineer Arnaud Elizagaray and I enjoyed working with him and the team.”
Team principal Victor Shapovalov concluded: “I can say that we have learnt a lot about the car’s performance. Now we are focusing on the set-up.”
ROB HUFF TESTED HIS SEAT AT SLOVAKIA RING
2012 WTCC champion Rob Huff had his first test in the ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport SEAT León car he will drive in the 2013 season. The team was forced to change their plan to test in Monza, due to the snow that covered the Italian track, and headed for the Slovakia Ring.
Huff and his team-mates Marc Basseng and René Münnich completed more than 500 kilometres between Wednesday and Thursday, focusing on set up, qualifying simulations and starts.
Huff said: “I’m very pleased to be joining the team. They are world champions themselves and so we have a very strong team and a great car for the yea. I’m very excited. It’s going to be a big challenge, but it’s nice for me.”
And Basseng added: “The level of competition in WTCC is actually very high and we are a new team. We definitely have to learn, but we have a good driver line up, with Rob Huff as the World Champion. He has a lot of experience and can help the team to improve quickly. So we hope that we can be on the front of the grid from the beginning.”
FIRST TIME FOR MICHELISZ IN THE HONDA CIVIC
2012 Yokohama Trophy winner Norbert Michelisz tested his new Honda Civic car for the first time on Thursday at the Circuito San Martino del Lago, nearby Cremona, in Italy.
Michelisz and the Zengö Motorsport team joined the Honda Racing Team JAS in the test session and the Hungarian youngster sat behind the wheel of the 2012 Civic WTCC, driven by Tiago Monteiro in last year’s final three race meetings.
“The plan was to go testing as soon as our own car was ready, but because I needed to get used to the Civic it was decided to start with JAS car from last year. The first impression was really good. I was prepared to struggle in switching from BMW to Honda, but to find the feeling with the Civic was easier than expected. This test boosted my confidence looking forward to the first races of
the season,” Michelisz explained and then added: “It is amazing working with JAS Motorsport and Honda engineers. They are so professional, and have a tight schedule. I have been visiting the JAS workshop just before the test, and saw the way they work. This is a great opportunity for Zengö Motorsport to learn from them, just like for me is learning from experienced drivers like Gabriele and Tiago. We share all the information and this is going to be a big, big help!”
STEFANO D’ASTE TO RACE FOR HIS OWN TEAM
Stefano D’Aste will continue racing in the World Touring Car Championship, driving a BMW 320 TC run by his own team, PB Motorsport.
The Italian racer, who claimed his first WTCC victories last year at Salzburgring and Suzuka, is one of the championship’s veterans. He has been competing in the series since the first season in 2005, and clinched the Yokohama Trophy title in 2007.
“I am happy with the decision to race with my own team. We have obviously a lot to learn, which is why we prefer to run only one car this year. In these days I am putting the team together: hiring the staff, buying the equipments. We are incredibly motivated for this new challenge and this will help us to be ready in time for the first event that is only three weeks away,” D’Aste explained.
PB Racing will be officially launched on March 9 at the Franciacorta circuit.
PEPE ORIOLA AIMS FOR TOP SIX IN 2013
Young Spaniard Pepe Oriola will drive again a SEAT León WTCC car run by the Tuenti Racing Team in the 2013 FIA World Touring Car Championship.
The 18-year old from Barcelona faces his third season in the WTCC. Last year he made a significant leap forward in terms of performance, claiming a second place in Portugal and becoming the youngest ever driver on the podium in an FIA World Championship. He was classified eighth in the Drivers’ Championship and second in the Yokohama Trophy.
“It has been a difficult winter, as we had to put in a strong effort to find companies willing to sponsor the programme. 2013 will be tough, however I hope that the experience I have gained last year will help me to improve further. I am still the youngest of the pack, but I am respected by my competitors who have to reckon with me on the track! My goal is to finish among the top-six in the championship,” Oriola said.
NEW LOOK AND FEATURES FOR WTCC WEBSITE
In view of the new season, the www.fiawtcc.com website underwent a significant revamp.
As a result, the WTCC official site features a more colourful and dynamic look, and offers its visitors a number of new and interesting features.
ONBOARD LAPS – Videos of laps shot from onboard cameras are available in the pages dedicated to the championship racetracks.
DYNAMIC STANDINGS – Arrows have been added to the point tables, showing when a driver is climbing up or dropping down in the positions.
100 RACE CLUB – A dedicated section presents the members of the club, those drivers who have taken part in at least 100 WTCC races.
SOCIAL NETWORKS – A dedicated section welcomes followers in the WTCC community and gives them the possibility to create their own avatar.
Additional features will be implemented during the season.
- 22 Days
Autodromo di Monza
23-24 March 2013