Just like in 2012, WTCC competitors won’t have a break after this weekend’s race meeting at the Slovakia Ring, as the next event takes place at the Hungaroring on May 5.
This spectacular racetrack that is located 20 km North-East of Budapest, Hungary’s capital city, is home to the Formula One Hungarian Grand Prix since 1986.
The FIA World Touring Car Championship returns to the Hungaroring for the third consecutive time after two successful appearances that turned into great successes, also thanks to local hero Norbert Michelisz, whose popularity attracted an impressive crowds of Hungarian fans.
And Michelisz has always done his best to entertain them. In 2011 he claimed a brilliant second place in the first race, but then spoiled his chances with a crash at the start of the second race. And in 2012 he took a dominant victory in the second race, for the joy of the 52,000 spectators who hailed him with stadium-like roars every time his BMW was passing on the main straight.
WATCH WTCC QUALIFYING LIVE ON THE WEB!
The WTCC qualifying sessions from Slovakia Ring, Hungaroring and Salzburgring will benefit from a complete live streaming coverage on the championship’s official website www.fiawtcc.com.
A delayed broadcast of the qualifying sessions will also be aired by Eurosport on Sunday morning immediately before the live coverage of the warm up.
A flashing banner on the home page will inform users when live streaming is available.
QUALIFYING LIVE STREAMING SCHEDULE
Saturday, 27 April : 15.30/16.05, Slovakia Ring
Saturday, 4 May : 14.30/15.05, Hungaroring
Saturday, 18 May : 15.00/15.35, Salzburgring
ROTEK RACING TO RUN FORD FOCUS CARS
Rotek Racing announced today that they have acquired the two Ford Focus cars that were run under the Team Aon banner by Arena Motorsport in the 2012 WTCC.
The team plan to test and develop the cars before entering the WTCC full-time later this year, possibly in time for the late European rounds but certainly for the overseas events in the Americas and Far East. Rotek Racing will initially be based in Germany at their Nürburgring facility, but will move in early summer to new premises at Sonoma Raceway.
USA driver Robb Holland, who had his first taste of WTCC last year at Sonoma in a bamboo-engineering Chevrolet Cruze, will race one of the cars while negotiations are well advanced with another driver.
The cars have been updated to 2013 specification and will be powered once more by the Mountune Performance developed 1.6 turbo ecoboost engine.
Robb Holland commented: “Last season I became the first and to date the only American to race in the WTCC and so to be moving full-time into the series with an American team and an American manufacturer is very exciting. The guys at Rotek Racing have acquired two well-built cars from Arena and I can’t wait to get started on the extensive test program they have planned between now and our WTCC race debut together.”
WTCC AND ETCC DRIVERS AT SLOVAK AUTO SHOW
A delegation of drivers representing the WTCC and ETCC has visited yesterday the Bratislava Auto Salon, the most important motor show in the Slovak Republic.
James Thompson, Norbert Michelisz, James Nash and Mat’o Homola were welcomed at the stand of the Slovakia Ring, located in the central pavilion of the exhibition. There they met a representative of the local media and were available for TV interviews.
Before leaving the Auto Salon the four drivers had the opportunity to challenge each other on the racing simulator, driving a lap of the Slovakia Ring at the wheel of a WTCC virtual car.
Needless to say, Michelisz who began ‘racing’ on the simulators outpaced his colleagues…
FOR HAVEN’S SAKE
Eurosport commentator and touring car expert Martin Haven’s column.
Slovakia Ring preview – Go East, young man!
In the next two weeks, the World Touring Car Championship will visit two eastern European tracks, the Slovakia Ring and then the Hungaroring – one a new facility, just three seasons old, the other now open for over 25 years and firmly established as Eastern Europe’s only current Grand Prix venue.
Last year’s first-ever WTCC trip to Slovakia was a scorcher, with soaring temperatures and some highly entertaining racing. Gabriele Tarquini’s SEAT claimed victory in Race 1, while Chevrolet’s Rob Huff took the honours in Race 2. The forecast for this year’s race weekend suggests that teams will worry about tyre-and-brake-wear once more, as it’s going to be a hot one. The tight nature of the track produced some fairly robust moves from a number of drivers in 2012 and if they want to avoid penalties, everyone will have to mind their manners this time round.
So, who can we expect to see at the sharp end of the grid? Well, Monza proved to be an RML Chevrolet benefit, with Yvan Muller winning both races. Most expected Marrakech to follow form, as Chevrolet has always fared well on street circuits and last year, romped to 1-2-3 finishes in both races. But that was not the case. As RML struggled to convert their pace into dominance, we had not one but two feel-good stories, with Michel Nykjaer and Pepe Oriola claiming overdue maiden wins.
Both had to hold off hugely-experienced rivals; in the case of Nykjaer, the charging Gabriele Tarquini (17 WTCC wins), in his Honda, while Oriola had Yvan Muller (32 wins) breathing down his neck in the RML Chevrolet. Emotions ran high in both camps, the Nika Racing team winning in just their third WTCC race, while Pepe Oriola Sr’s tears of joy were indication of just how much the win meant…
Last year’s races in Slovakia showed that almost anyone can be competitive. Norbert Michelisz took pole with his BMW, while the Lukoil SEAT cars of Gabriele Tarquini and Aleksei Dudukalo claimed a 1-2 result in Race 1 and Chevrolet’s Rob Huff and Yvan Muller did likewise in Race 2.
The Castrol Honda team looks poised to make the move to the top step of the podium, although their cousins in orange and black at Zengö Motorsport could do with a little change in fortune – they only luck they’ve had this season has been bad; when was the last time you saw a car taken out of a race by someone else’s broken brake disc? The ‘Norbi’ Barmy Army would certainly relish their man producing the form of last year, as a warm-up to Hungary…
And what about LADA? Captain Jack Sparrow (James Thompson) has proved that the new Granta Sport has plenty of potential. Once their fortunes change, the Lukoil cars should be consistent front-runners. What more fitting place for it all to finally come together than at the scene of their sponsor’s best day in the WTCC?
HUGO VALENTE TO JOIN IN HUNGARY
French driver Hugo Valente will join the WTCC in the fourth event at Budapest’s Hungaroring, at the wheel of a SEAT León car run by the Spanish outfit Campos Racing.
Valente who was born 21 years ago, began his racing career in karting and then moved quickly to single seaters (Formula Academy EuroSeries and Formula Renault Eurocup). In 2012, on his first touring car season he claimed the French SEAT León Supercópa title and at the end of the season made a one-off appearance in the WTCC at Shanghai.
“I’m excited to race in WTCC again after last year. I’m very much looking forward to get to know the series more in Budapest, as well as in five other events this year. My goal is to gain as much experience as I can, with the car, tyres and circuits, in order to prepare the 2014 season in the best possible way. I only had two testing days before Budapest, so I am expecting tough races over there. But my goal is to improve compared to my team-mates Pepe Oriola and Fernando Monje,” said Valente.
EUROSPORT TV PROGRAMMES – BUDAPEST *
Sunday, 5 May – 08.30/08.45, WTCC Qualifying on Eurosport 1
Sunday, 5 May – 08.45/09.15, WTCC Warm Up LIVE on Eurosport 1
Sunday, 5 May – 12.15/13.15, WTCC Race 1 LIVE on Eurosport 1
Sunday, 5 May – 14.15/15.30, WTCC Race 2 LIVE on Eurosport 1
Tuesday, 7 May – 23.30, Inside WTCC on Eurosport 1
* all times CET
ETCC: 28 DRIVERS ENTERED IN SLOVAKIA RING
Once again a strong field will hit the track for the third and fourth rounds of the The FIA European Touring Car Cup that take place this weekend at the Slovakia Ring.
Twenty-eight drivers have entered in the event: eleven in the Super 2000 class, seven in the Super 1600 and ten in the Single-Make Trophy. Five different car Manufacturers are represented: Alfa Romeo, BMW, Ford, Honda, SEAT.
There are three new entries in the Super 2000 category.
Facing his first ETCC appearance is Slovak racer Filip Sládecka at the wheel of an Alfa Romeo 156 run by the Incar Revco Team. Two other drivers are making their season debut in the series, both in BMW 320si cars: Turkey’s Aytaç Biter for Borusan Otomotiv Motorsport and Italy’s Diego Romanini for Proteam Racing.
FULÍN SETS FASTEST TIME IN ETCC TESTING
The two one-hour Testing sessions ahead of the FIA European Touring Car Cup races at the Slovakia Ring saw the Krenek Motorsport BMW 320si cars setting the pace. Petr Fulín from the Czech Republic was fastest in the first session with a lap time of 2:15.334, while his compatriot Michal Matĕjovský set the quickest lap time (2:16.547) in the second session. The two drivers were the only ones to beat the 2:17.000 barrier and so the team must be confident of its chances on Sunday.
Other front-runners in Super 2000 were Slovakia’s Mat’o Homola, whose BMW set a time of 2:18.080 in Testing 2, and the SEAT León TFSI of Dušan Borković from Serbia (2:18.602).
Just as on the first ETCC race weekend in Monza, the SEAT León Supercópa cars contesting the Single-Make Trophy proved themselves to be a match for the majority of the S2000 entrants; Aurélien Comte (2:17.087), Ferenc Ficza (2:18.868) and Andreas Pfister (2:18.983) will be the front-runners for SMT honours in the two races. Igor Skuz called in the services of ex-SEAT Sport WTCC driver Jordi Gené to assist with the car’s set-up and so, while it looked as though Skuz had set the second-quickest time in
Testing 2 (2:17.717) it was actually the Spanish driver behind the wheel at the time.
The Super 1600 category saw the fastest time set by the reigning title-holder, Kevin Krammes, who set a time of 2:33.708 in the first session ahead of Ulrike Krafft (2:33.830). With the pair electing not to take part in Testing 2, Klaus Bingler headed the S1600 competitors with a time of 2:36.520.
Testing 2 was suspended briefly after oil on the track from the Alfa Romeo 156 of Slovakia’s Filip Sládecka brought out the red flags; Sládecka subsequently withdrew from the meeting as a result of the incident.