The first of two summer breaks for the FIA World Touring Car Championship comes to an end this weekend with the eighth round of the Championship at Curitiba, the first race since the surprise announcement of Chevrolet’s departure at the end of the year.
Curitiba has been a fixture on the calendar since 2006, but its usual place has been as the opening round in recent years. This year the teams and drivers find themselves going there at the start of Brazil’s winter, which will see them compete in most likely cooler conditions than in recent rounds.
Last year, Rob Huff took pole position and went on to take victory in race one in the Chevrolet Cruze, then debuting their brand new 1.6 litre turbo engine, whilst Chevrolet team-mate Alain Menu took advantage of the reversed grid to win the second race although he had to fight the fast-starting Tom Coronel hard for it, with Coronel then in his first race meeting for ROAL Motorsport in the BMW.
Chevrolet ran a fourth car for guest driver Carlos ‘Cacá’ Bueno last season, who took a podium finish in only his second WTCC event, but this year will be the first time that there isn’t a Brazilian on the grid as the WTCC visits Brazil, with Chevrolet just entering the three cars this season.
Two driver count drops by two since the last round at Portimão – since Lada Sport’s programme was only for the Hungarian and Portuguese rounds of the Championship, and likewise Hungarian Gábor Wéber’s budget only extended to the European half of the season, and so the #27 BMW 320 TC of Zengõ Motorsport and the #69 Lada Granta which was raced by James Thompson will be absent from the grid.
A new addition however, or more a returnee is 19-year-old Spaniard Fernando Monje, now crowned the 2012 FIA European Touring Car Cup S2000 champion after a four race campaign with SUNRED in the older SEAT León TDI. Monje took part in his home race in Valencia with the SUNRED 1.6 engine, but for Curitiba he will be running with the latest SEAT Sport 1.6 turbo along with team-mate and independents’ trophy points leader Pepe Oriola at SUNRED.
After a few strong rounds for Chevrolet, the US marque has lost out in the latest calculation of ballast. The five Chevrolet Cruzes of the RML-run works team and the two Bamboo Engineering independent entries will run with 40kg of compensation weight as they have done all year, but the BMW 320 TCs and SEAT León WTCCs will drop 30kg of ballast in comparison with Portimão, returning the SEAT to the weight they started the season with, where Gabriele Tarquini took pole position for the first race of the year at Monza, and the BMWs are now also at their lightest weight since Valencia in April.
The Ford Focus TC 2000s of Tom Chilton and James Nash and the lone SR León 1.6T of Tiago Monteiro will be running with the lowest possible ballast, as they both have been since Slovakia.
21 cars will line-up on the grid for Rounds 15 and 16 of the WTCC, with Yvan Muller leading the standings over Chevrolet team-mate Rob Huff by 18 points, with Alain Menu just 35 points behind.
In the Yokohama independents’ trophy, SUNRED SEAT driver Pepe Oriola leads by 10 points over Norbert Michelisz in his Zengõ Motorsport BMW.
After Brazil, there’s a two month gap to the next round of the Championship, which will be the WTCC’s first visit to the United States of America, competing at Sonoma Raceway, California.
FIA World Touring Car Championship – Race Of Brazil Entry List
No – Driver – Nat – Team – Car
1 – Yvan Muller – FRA – Chevrolet – Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T
2 – Robert Huff – GBR – Chevrolet – Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T
3 – Gabriele Tarquini – ITA – Lukoil Racing Team – SEAT León WTCC
4 – Aleksei Dudukalo *- RUS – Lukoil Racing Team – SEAT León WTCC
5 – Norbert Michelisz * – HUN – Zengő Motorsport – BMW 320 TC
6 – Franz Engstler* – GER – Liqui Moly Team Engstler – BMW 320 TC
7 – Charles Kaki Ng* – HKG – Liqui Moly Team Engstler – BMW 320 TC
8 – Alain Menu – SUI – Chevrolet – Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T
11 – Alex MacDowall* – GBR – Bamboo Engineering – Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T
12 – Pasquale Di Sabatino* – ITA – Bamboo Engineering – Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T
14 – James Nash – GBR – Arena International Motorsport – Ford Focus S2000 TC
15 – Tom Coronel – NED – ROAL Motorsport – BMW 320 TC
16 – Alberto Cerqui* – ITA – ROAL Motorsport – BMW 320 TC
18 – Tiago Monteiro – POR – SUNRED Engineering – SR León 1.6T
20 – Darryl O’Young* – HKG – Special Tuning Racing – SEAT León WTCC
22 – Tom Boardman* – GBR – Special Tuning Racing – SEAT León WTCC
23 – Tom Chilton – GBR – Arena International Motorsport – Ford Focus S2000 TC
25 – Mehdi Bennani* – MOR – Proteam Racing – BMW 320 TC
26 – Stefano D’Aste* – ITA – Wiechers-Sport – BMW 320 TC
74 – Pepe Oriola* – SPN – SUNRED Engineering – SEAT León WTCC
88 – Fernando Monje* – SPN – SUNRED Engineering – SEAT León WTCC
* Eligible for Yokohama Independents’ Trophy
Race Of Brazil Weekend Timetable
Friday 20th July
14:00 – 14:30 – Testing
Saturday 21st July
08:20 – 08:50 – Free Practice 1
11:15 – 11:45 – Free Practice 2
16:00 – 16:35 – Qualifying
Sunday 22nd July
09:05 – 09:20 – Warm Up
15:05 – Race One (14 Laps)
16:20 – Race Two (14 Laps)
* All times local time BRT (CET -5hrs, BST -4hrs)
Race Of Brazil Compensation Weights
Car – Weight – Breakdown
Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T – 1,200kg – 1,160 +40kg success ballast
BMW 320 TC – 1,170kg – 1,160 + 10kg success ballast
SEAT León WTCC – 1,150kg – 1,150 + 0kg success ballast
SR León 1.6T – 1,150kg – 1,150 – 20kg penalty ballast + 20kg national ballast
Ford Focus S2000 TC – 1,130kg – 1,150 -20kg success ballast