The fifth and sixth rounds of the 2013 FIA World Touring Car Championship are hosted next week at the Slovakia Ring, on April 28.
This is the championship’s second visit to this modern racetrack, located nearby the village of Orechová Potôň, 40 km East of Bratislava, that was inaugurated in 2009.
The track layout is a mix of fast and slow parts that perfectly suits touring car racing how it was proved from last year’s WTCC races.
The BMW of Norbert Michelisz set pole position in 2012, but SEAT cars finished 1-2 in Race 1, with Gabriele Tarquini ahead of Aleksei Dudukalo, while Chevrolet responded in Race 2 with Rob Huff winner from Yvan Muller.
Slovak fans flocked to the event – the first World Championship race meeting in the Country. A sell-out crowd of more than 25,000 enjoyed the sunny day and close, incident-packed racing.
COMPENSATION WEIGHT COMES INTO FORCE
The Compensation Weight system comes into force for the first time this season at the Slovakia Ring. The system determines the running weight of the cars on the basis of lap time calculation.
The best lap times of the two fastest cars of each model in qualifying and the two best lap times of the two fastest cars of each model in both races are averaged. The calculation is based on a three event rolling average, being applied after the first two events.
The compensation weight has been determined by the lap times set in Italy and Morocco and the Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T was identified as the reference model, therefore it will receive the maximum compensation weight of 40 kg in addition to the minimu weight.
The SEAT León WTCC and Honda Civic cars will run with no compensation weight added, while the BMW 320 TC and LADA Granta cars will benefit from a 20-kg reduction of their minimum weight.
Compensation weight Slovakia Ring
+ 40 kg : Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T
± 0 kg : Honda Civic S2000, SEAT León WTCC
– 20 kg : BMW 320 TC, LADA Granta
MULLER AND NASH DEFEND THEIR LEAD
The WTCC resumes in the Slovak Republic for the third race meeting of the season after a two-week break that followed the races in Marrakech.
Three different race winners and seven podium finishers in the first four races held so far mean that the championship is hard-fought.
The challenge for most of the drivers is to fill the gap that Yvan Muller has already been able to open. Thank to a double victory at Monza and two good placings in Morocco, the Frenchman has built a leading margin of 37 points ahead of Michel Nykjær (winner at Marrakech) and Gabriele Tarquini (twice on the podium, but still chasing a victory).
Tom Chilton, James Nash and Pepe Oriola are placed from fourth to six, at striking distance.
The fight is even closer in the Yokohama Trophy, with Nash leading by only six points ahead of Nykjær.
Considering how competitive the SEAT cars were last year on the Slovak circuit, it can be assumed that the drivers at the wheel of the León will be competitive, especially Oriola (who scored his first win at Marrakech) and the ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport duo of Marc Basseng and Rob Huff.
THOMPSON: WE’LL BE COMPETITIVE IN SLOVAKIA
James Thompson will turn thirty-nine next Friday. Twice winner of the British Touring Car Championship and the FIA European Touring Car Cup, third-placed in the 2007 FIA World Touring Car Championship, the Englishman is considered one of the fastest and most experienced touring car drivers worldwide. And yet he has not driven very much in the latest years…
He joined LADA Sport in 2009, to drive the Priora in its first WTCC appearances but the programme was placed in the fridge for two years and then restarted in 2012 for only a couple of events and with a new car, the Granta.
“When we started in 2009, it was hoped we would continue and develop the car over the coming years. And so it was disappointing for everyone when the programme was stopped. But I think that time made us stronger and better prepared for these years ahead now with the Granta. The team is strong and still growing as our competitiveness increases. I was quietly confident that our starting point would be much higher than ever before, because of these things. And confident we would surprise a lot of people.”
Last year and during last winter he team spent a lot of time in testing.
“So much progress and improvement from the Priora to the Granta, it’s a total evolution. Also the engine regulations have changed now with the 1.6 turbo, so naturally the car needs a slightly different mentality than before, as we have much more power and torque. I’m very pleased with our starting point, we have been in the top ten of every practice session and made Q2 on both occasions. That was the first goal, to be consistently competitive and not just a flash in the pan. Now we must improve our performance step by step which we most certainly can!”
Bad luck was the leitmotif for Thompson and LADA in the first two events of the season. Accidents caused by other drivers sidelined the Englishman in three races out of four.
“It’s just a shame we have been denied the opportunity to exploit our full potential so far, but that will change. I’m very hopeful and excited for the rest of the season and the developments we have planned to evolve the car mean we will become faster through the year, so at every race there is reason to look forward. From what I’ve seen of Slovakia Ring, it looks like an exciting challenge, with fast flowing sections. So I’m sure we can be competitive.”
EUROSPORT TV PROGRAMMES *
Sunday, 28 April : 08.30/08.45 – WTCC Qualifying – Eurosport 1
Sunday, 28 April : 08.45/09.15 – WTCC Warm Up LIVE – Eurosport 1
Sunday, 28 April : 14.30/16.30 – WTCC Races 1 & 2 LIVE – Eurosport 1
Tuesday, 30 April : 14.00/15.00 – ETCC Races 1 & 2 – Eurosport 2
Tuesday, 30 April : 23.00 – Inside WTCC – Eurosport 1
* all times CET
ETCC: MAT’O HOMOLA VS PETR FULÍN
The WTCC event at the Slovakia Ring will also feature rounds 3 and 4 of the FIA European Touring Car Cup.
The series kicked off at Monza one month ago with an impressive field of 35 cars split in three different categories: Super 2000, Super 1600 and Single-Make Trophy.
Czech driver Peter Fulín and his Krenek Motorsport BM 320si are leading the S2000 class after their victory in Monza’s Race 2. However, Fulín will face strong competition from his own team-mate and countryman Michal Matějovský and Switzerland’s Peter Rikli, who won the first race in Italy in his Honda Civic. Other drivers to watch are local heroes Mat’o Homola, 18-year old from Bratislava who also drives a BMW 320si and finished twice on the podium on his home racetrack last year, and Filip Sládecka (23) on his ETCC maiden appearance in an Alfa Romeo 156.
Reigning S1600 champion Kevin Krammes kicked off the season in style at Monza with back-to-back victories in his Ford Fiesta. However the German leads by only three points ahead of Gilles Bruckner.
Another teen-ager, Jordi Oriola (16-year old brother of WTCC race winner Pepe) emerged as the winner of the Single-Make Trophy first race at Monza. The category is led by Nikolay Karamyskev who won the second race in Italy, but the Russian racer is chased by Mario Dablander and Aurélien Comte who are tied only one point behind.