The city of Porto and its motorsport fans yesterday enjoyed a tasty appetizer ahead of this weekend’s WTCC event, when five WTCC cars paraded through the streets of the old city.
The spectacular event was organized by the Camara Municipal do Porto and the promoter Porto Lazer.
Local hero Tiago Monteiro’s Honda, Tom Boardman’s SEAT, the BMW cars of Stefano D’Aste and Mehdi Bennani and Mikhail Kozlovsky’s LADA drove along the banks of the River Douro from the historical Praça da Ribeira back to the circuit’s paddock under police escort.
Before the parade, a dozen drivers had attended a crowded autograph session at the Ribeira.
The whole event was given massive coverage by the national TV broadcaster RTP through its free-on-air and cable channels.
DRIVERS WARM UP IN… BUMPER CARS
WTCC drivers warmed up for this weekend’s races at Porto’s Boavista street circuit by fighting each other in… bumper cars!
Yesterday, a group of racers was given the opportunity to tour the beautiful city of Porto on board a double-decker bus.
The party made a few stops at some of the town’s landmarks, from the ancient Clerigos Tower to the modern Casa da Musica, where they posed for pictures and were interviewed by the local press.
During the tour they stopped at a funfair where they had the opportunity to drive bumper cars. Much fun was had by all and some of them – including Stefano D’Aste, Tiago Monteiro and Mikhail Kozlovskiy – proved forceful in T-boning their fellow competitors…
… AND DRINK A TOAST WITH PORTO WINE
Tourism and touring cars mingled in Porto, when a group of drivers was shown around in the old town.
Amongst the different spots they visited there was the Museum Casa da Infante, the House of Prince Henry, Duke of Viseu, better known as Henry the Navigator.
The third child of King John I, Henry was an important figure in the early days of the Portuguese Empire and the Age of Discoveries.
Inside the museum the drivers were invited to drink a toast, sipping glasses of vintage Porto wine.
FOR HAVEN’S SAKE
Eurosport commentator and touring car expert Martin Haven’s column.
Porto preview – Europe’s final fling
Where has the year gone? It seems mere weeks since we were excitedly arriving in Monza, wondering what the new FIA WTCC season would bring. Now, we’re at the end of the European campaign and soon, teams will wave goodbye to their cars, seeing them only occasionally until they arrive back at base some time after Christmas.
Fittingly, Portugal – and more fittingly still Porto – provide the venue for the leaving party. Porto grew in stature in parallel with Portugal’s sea-faring prowess, the fortified wine from the Douro region being a favourite aboard ship, as it would survive the conditions better than normal wines.
The sea-faring commences next week for the WTCC cars and their attendant packages of spare parts, as they head to the Americas and then on to the Far East, much as the great explorers did over 300 years ago. But before that, we have a street-race, by the seaside, to contemplate.
Porto established itself immediately as a firm favourite in the WTCC. There’s something just so right about racing touring cars on the same streets that their road-going cousins use every other weekend of the year. They seem perfectly at home on the streets, their size and scale seems in proportion to the houses and street furniture they tear past.
With the guaranteed warm welcome from organisers, fans and the city as a whole, it’s no surprise that the Circuito da Boavista brings out the best in people. It brings out the best in the racing too, the tight confines and unforgiving concrete walls ensuring that everyone has to be at their very best if they want to survive, never mind make progress.
In its first career, as a Grand Prix circuit – yes, they held the Portuguese F1 GP here twice – it looked only a little different. The layout looped around the park (as it does now), ran along the sea-front Esplanada do Rio de Janeiro (as it does now) and then the drivers tore up the Avenida da Boavista (as they do now).
Admittedly, nowadays they don’t have to contend with tram-lines in the road (although the old turning circle on the front is still there) and the surface was somewhat less smooth than nowadays, thanks to the cobblestones but star of the 1958 race Stirling Moss and 1960 winner Jack Brabham would immediately recognise the place.
They’d recognise the challenge faced by the drivers too. In their day, it was trees protected (if that’s the word) by straw bales, now it’s concrete walls and wire fences to contain the accidents but the essentials remain. Street racing is the ultimate distillation of the driver’s art. No mistakes, no excuses. Get it wrong and there’s no tarmac run-off, no grassy areas – just a hefty impact with an unyielding wall. It focuses the mind incredibly!
So, let’s raise a glass (although maybe not one of those €100 glasses of Port) to our intrepid drivers and enjoy the final hurrah in Europe. Next time we see the cars in action, we’ll be in very different surroundings, in Argentina.
PORTO: A CHALLENGE FOR TV PRODUCTION
Eurosport Events put in strong efforts to broadcast WTCC races worldwide, and this weekend’s event at Porto is one of those that require further exertion from the TV production team.
“Things are more difficult at all street circuits,” explains Deputy Chief Editor Alessandro Dragosei. “At a permanent track, everything is set up for the activities, including TV production. But at a street circuit we have to start from scratch. Placing the cameras in positions to get good shots is more difficult, as is laying cables across streets or through private properties: a cable can always break, but here it can break because someone comes home and drives across it. And on top of this the circuit opens every night to normal traffic. It’s an absolute nightmare for TV production!”
You work with a contractor company to achieve this?
“We work very closely with Visual for the entire European season and they are the very best. They make the task easier because they are very professional and they are used to challenges. Between them and us we have a total of ninety people involved in producing the TV programmes in Porto.”
What facilities do you have for the TV production from Porto?
“We have 29 track cameras, including a Jimmy-jib – a special camera on a crane that can shoot spectacular pictures. We have one helicopter, which is extremely good at this kind of track because the view from above is particularly rewarding and it allows us the opportunity to show the wider pictures of the race in what are very beautiful surroundings. As usual, we have our two RF cameras for use in the pit lane and 24 onboard cameras in the cars themselves. The big effort here, I have to say, is in terms of the track cameras and the helicopter.”
What are the advantages of a street circuit from a TV point of view?
“The two main problems in motorsport TV production are that all tracks look the same, so only the experts can tell if you are at one track or another, and that virtually every corner looks very similar to the others. As a result, there is a risk of producing a very monotonous series of pictures. That isn’t an issue with city tracks; you can recognize Monaco, Macau or Porto because the corners look different. You can diversify the way the pictures look, plus the races tend to be quite animated and also you have the opportunity to place cameras quite close to the cars to give a real sense of speed so we always get a good audience when we are at a street circuit. For us, city tracks are the most challenging technically, but the most rewarding in terms of the quality of the programmes we make.”
WORLD COUNCIL APPROVES NEW RULES
Evolution of technical regulations for the 2014 WTCC was approved today by the FIA World Motorsport Council during the meeting at the Goodwood House.
The new generation of Super 2000 touring cars will look more spectacular, with bigger aerodynamic devices and will have greater performance through the power to weight ratio.
In order to ease the introduction of the new cars, the homologation procedure will be similar to the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship, but with an additional two jokers.
2013 cars will also be accepted in 2014.
The Council also stamped the amendment of the 2013 calendar, with Argentina replacing Brazil (subject to the confirmation of the Termas de Río Hondo circuit homologation).