The 2013 World Touring Car Championship will resume next week after a five-week break that followed the Portuguese event.
Rounds 15 and 16 will take place on Sunday, 4 August at Termas de Río Hondo, Argentina. The 4.8-km racetrack is located nearby a thermal and tourist area, inside the province of Santiago del Estero, some 1300 kilometres North West of Buenos Aires. It was inaugurated in 2008 and hosted rounds of car and motorcycling national championships since.
The WTCC Race of Argentina marks the world championship’s first visit to the Country and also the first international event in Termas de Río Hondo that will welcome MotoGP in 2014.
“We are very proud to host the first WTCC event in Argentina. The circuit of Termas de Río Hondo is up to the task of receiving top-level international meetings and we are keen to represent in the best way our Country that boasts such a long standing tradition in motor sports,” commented Gérardo Zamora, Governor of Santiago del Estero.
The WTCC drivers will discover the track for the first time during a 30-minute test session at 1.30pm local time on Friday, 2 August. The weekend will continue with three 30-minute sessions on Saturday (two Free Practices at 9.30am and 12.00 pm, Qualifying at 3.45pm).
The two 11-lap races will take place on Sunday at 2.20pm and 4.20pm.
CITROËN NAMES C-ELYSÉE FOR WTCC CAMPAIGN
Citroën Racing announced today that the C-Elysée is the car chosen for the brand’s first WTCC campaign in 2014.
After making its first track outing a few days ago, the Citroën C-Elysée WTCC has now begun a programme of development tests. The car will make its first public appearance at the Frankfurt International Motor Show in September.
“Choosing the C-Elysée as the basis for our WTCC car reflects very clearly our determination to use racing as an active means of supporting our commercial development,” emphasized Frédéric Banzet, CEO of the Citroën Brand. “With rounds in Latin America, Morocco, China and Russia, the WTCC race calendar is genuinely global, and it will be a real advantage to run a C-Elysée, a key driver of our growth, in front of large crowds of enthusiastic motorsport fans.”
“From a strictly technical perspective, the choice of a three-volume saloon body was ideal in terms of aerodynamics. C-Elysée was therefore the perfect choice,” added Xavier Mestelan-Pinon, Citroën Racing’s Technical Director. “Apart from this aspect, we were able to install the various components fairly easily. Insofar as this is our first track racing car, we constantly had to ask ourselves questions about the relevance of our choices, but that’s what makes this a particularly exciting challenge.”
LADA SPORT TEST 2014 TECHNICAL SPECS
The LADA Sport LUKOIL team completed a one-day test at Magny-Cours. James Thompson hit the French track at the wheel of a Granta test car fitted with new features complying with 2014 WTCC technical requirements.
Team principal Victor Shapovalov explained: “We are already working on the evolution of the LADA Granta in view of the 2014 season. This car will have a more racing look, more power, more stability and drivability. After the first half of the season, we have a clear understanding how to improve the car. During the races we tested the car on various types of circuits, now we know all the strengths and weak points of the Granta and are able to worked out the programme of its technical development.”
“PECHITO” LÓPEZ IN HOME RACE
José María “Pechito” López, one of Argentina’s most competitive drivers, will make his first WTCC appearance on his home race meeting.
Though he just turned thirty, López has already built himself a solid reputation in different national and international categories. Having moved to Europe after his first steps in karting, “Pechito” impressed in formula cars clinching the 2003 Formula Renault V6 Euro Cup title and claiming race wins and podiums in GP2 and Formula 3000. This resulted in him being selected as tester by the Renault F1 team in 2006. Three years later López was announced as a driver of the ill-fated US F1 Team programme that aborted even before the start.
Meanwhile López had returned to Argentina, emerging as one of the best racers in national Touring Car series such as the TC2000, Super TC2000, Turismo Carretera and Top Race. Driving for factory teams such as Honda, Ford and Fiat, he clinched a number of victories and four national titles.
López will be the second Argentine driver to race in WTCC after Leonel Pernía’s one-off appearance at Monza in 2010, when he finished tenth in the second race at the wheel of a factory Chevrolet Cruze.
At Termas de Río Hondo López will drive a Wiechers-Sport BMW 320 TC; team manager Dominik Greiner commented: “I’m really happy we signed with him. Everybody involved in the event put a lot of effort into this and now we are looking forward to a great weekend in Argentina. ‘Pechito’ is very popular and I’m sure he will learn quickly how to handle the WTCC car. I hope we will score many points in the races.”
LÓPEZ: “PROUD TO REPRESENT ARGENTINA”
Argentina’s local hero José María López speaks about his participation in the next WTCC event at Termas de Río Hondo.
You will be only the second Argentine driver to race in WTCC, after Leonel Pernía back in 2010. Are you excited?
“Of course I am excited! I was offered the opportunity to race myself in 2010, but I was forced to decline because I was fighting for the TC2000 title. Now that opportunity comes up again and at the right time. I feel very proud to represent my own Country in a World Championship and I wish to thank the Automóvil Club Argentino and the event promoter for offering me this second chance.”
You are one of the most experienced and competitive Argentine drivers. You regularly race in Turismo Carretera, Super TC2000 and Top Race. How do you figure the WTCC cars?
“I’m a lucky guy. I had the opportunity to race many cars in Argentina and also in Europe, so It will be a good experience for me to test this WTCC cars. Because of the technical specifications, I figure that the WTCC cars are similar to our TC2000 machines.”
In the past you had the occasion to measure yourself with some of the WTCC drivers, when they took part in the Buenos Aires 200 Miles. Were you impressed by them?
“They always impressed me when they came to Argentina. I even had the privilege to share my car with Gabriele Tarquini. And now it will be very nice to see him again and race against him and the others.”
You will be the only driver in the event at Termas de Río Hondo with knowledge of the track. How much do you think this will help you, considering the limited track time allowed by WTCC?
“I think that I will have an advantage only in Friday’s testing. In WTCC there are some of the best touring car drivers in the world, therefore I expect them to be very quick in learning everything about the track…”
You will be racing in a Wiechers-Sport BMW. Both the team and car proved competitive and won races last year and in the current season. What are your expectations in terms of performance and results?
“I will definitely give my best to the team. I will always drive at hundred per cent, with the aim of achieving a good result for the team and the Argentine fans that will come to the track to see me racing.”
This is the first visit of WTCC to Argentina. How do you think the Argentine fans will react? Do you expect a big crowd?
“Argentines are really great fans of motor sports. Yes, I do expect a lot of people to come to the races.”
EUROSPORT TV PROGRAMMES *
Saturday, 3 August : 20.45/21.30 – Qualifying LIVE on Eurosport 2
Sunday, 4 August : 14.00/14.30 – Warm Up LIVE on Eurosport 1
Sunday, 4 August : 19.00/20.00 – Race 1 LIVE on Eurosport 2
Sunday, 4 August : 20.30/21.00 – Race 1 on Eurosport 1
Sunday, 4 August : 21.00/22.00 – Race 2 LIVE on Eurosport 1
Wednesday, 7 August : 00.30 – Inside WTCC on Eurosport 1
* all times CET
HUFF DRIVES A MINI AT SILVERSTONE
Rob Huff will race a historic Austin Mini Cooper S at the Silverstone Classic – the ‘World’s Biggest Motor Racing Festival’ – this weekend.
Huff will get back behind the wheel of the historic 1965 Austin Mini Cooper S he took to a surprise victory at this year’s Brands Hatch Historic Masters Festival. He will compete in the new Trans-Atlantic Touring Car races with team-mate Desmond Smail.
“The Silverstone Classic is a great way to socialise with some true motorsport enthusiasts and it will be a thrill to race a British icon such as the Mini Cooper S. The weekend might be a decent shakedown for the Goodwood Revival in September, but having taken the Mini to an unexpected victory at Brands Hatch, the pressure is on to repeat that result at Silverstone!” Huff said.
Picture: Giles Cooper Photography