Back to the USA, the first chance for the titles to be decided

The FIA World Touring Car Championship returns to Sonoma Raceway, California this weekend for the second time, where Honda can mathematically wrap up the manufacturers’ title and Yvan Muller has the chance to take a record setting fourth drivers’ title.

The 4km circuit just north of San Francisco will host the ninth round of this year’s WTCC, which RML’s Yvan Muller has a strangehold on after taking six wins from 16 races.

The 2008, 2010 and 2011 WTCC champion has an outside chance of securing his fourth title this weekend on US soil, though he will need a strong weekend and a below average weekend from both of his closest rivals, Nika Racing’s Michel Nykjaer and Honda’s Gabriele Tarquini.

Honda on the other hand have a high probability securing the manufacturers’ title in their debut season. The Japanese marque currently has a 263 point lead over Lada in the standings, with just 258 points available after the weekend, meaning they just need to maintain the points gap to take the crown from Chevrolet.

Changes to the grid this weekend include the return of British driver Tom Boardman in the Special Tuning Racing SEAT León WTCC, who skipped Argentina due to accident damage sustained at Porto in June, and the return of Swiss driver Fredy Barth, racing for the first time at Sonoma, reclaiming his Wiechers-Sport seat from Argentinian José María López.

The entry list for the weekend therefore features 24 cars, seven BMWs, six Chevrolets, six SEATs, three Hondas, two Ladas. The Rotek Racing Fords, which were previously targeting making their debut this weekend, will not be taking part.

The latest changes in compensation weight see the Hondas gain 10kg of weight whilst the SEATs will lose 10kg of ballast compared to the previous round for the undulating Sonoma Raceway circuit. The Chevrolet Cruze is again the reference car, being the fastest throughout the previous three race meetings, and so will be carrying the maximum of 40kg of ballast at the circuit where Yvan Muller and Rob Huff shared the victories last season behind the wheel of the Cruze 1.6T.

“This is a fantastic circuit with many up and down sections and the quick change of directions,” said Honda’s Gabriele Tarquini. “It’s not easy for sure and very challenging to get all the corners correct for the best time. But I think this will be a better match for our Hondas than some of the circuits we have been to this season,” he added.

“Last year I was on the podium in Race 2 so I am looking forward to being back at Sonoma with the Civic going so well now. I hope we have a winning weekend.”

Reigning champion Rob Huff is focussing on podiums and more victories at Sonoma, after engine problems at Termas de Río Hondo in Argentina severely dented his challenge for second place in this year’s drivers’ championship.

“The events of Argentina were very unfortunate and placed me on the back foot in terms of the championship,” said Huff. “I can’t lower my ambitions. I’m wanting race wins or podium finishes at Sonoma, with the ultimate target being second in the final standings.”

“I feel very comfortable in my ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport SEAT León and I think we have the equipment and the determination to take it to those pesky Chevys. I absolutely adore Sonoma. It’s a superb circuit that you can really attack, although it’s easy to overstretch yourself and make a mistake.”

Race Of USA Entry List

No – Driver – Nat – Team – Car
1 – Rob Huff – GBR – Münnich Motorsport – SEAT León WTCC
3 – Gabriele Tarquini – ITA – Castrol Honda Racing Team JAS – Honda Civic
5 – Norbert Michelisz – HUN – Zengõ Motorsport – Honda Civic Super 2000 TC
6 – Franz Engstler* – GER – Liqui Moly Team Engstler – BMW 320 TC
7 – Charles Ng* – HKG – Liqui Moly Team Engstler – BMW 320 TC
8 – Mikhail Kozlovskiy – RUS – LADA Sport Lukoil – Lada Granta Sport
9 – Alex MacDowall* – GBR – bamboo-engineering – Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T
10 – James Thompson – GBR – LADA Sport Lukoil – Lada Granta Sport
12 – Yvan Muller – FRA – RML – Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T
14 – James Nash* – GBR – bamboo-engineering – Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T
15 – Tom Coronel – NED – ROAL Motorsport – BMW 320 TC
17 – Michel Nykjaer* – DEN – Nika Racing – Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T
18 – Tiago Monteiro – POR – Castrol Honda Racing Team JAS – Honda Civic
19 – Fernando Monje* – SPN – Campos Racing – SEAT León WTCC
20 – Hugo Valente* – SPN – Campos Racing – SEAT León WTCC
22 – Tom Boardman* – GBR – Special Tuning Racing – SEAT León WTCC
23 – Tom Chilton – GBR – RML – Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T
25 – Mehdi Bennani* – MOR – Proteam Racing – BMW 320 TC
26 – Stefano D’Aste* – ITA – PB Racing – BMW 320 TC
37 – René Münnich* – GER – Münnich Motorsport – SEAT León WTCC
38 – Marc Basseng – GER – Münnich Motorsport – SEAT León WTCC
55 – Darryl O’Young* – HKG – ROAL Motorsport – BMW 320 TC
73 – Fredy Barth* – SWI – Wiechers-Sport – BMW 320 TC
74 – Pepe Oriola – SPN – Tuenti Racing Team – Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T

* Drivers eligible for the Yokohama Trophy

Race Of USA Compensation Ballast

Car Model – Ballast – Final Weight
Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T – +40kg – 1,190kg
Honda Civic Super 2000 TC – +10kg – 1,160kg
BMW 320 TC – +0kg – 1,150kg
SEAT León WTCC – -10kg – 1,140kg
Lada Granta Sport – -20kg – 1,130kg

Race Of USA Timetable

Friday 6th September
12:45 – Testing

Saturday 7th September
09:00 – Free Practice 1
11:00 – Free Practice 2
14:00 – Qualifying

Sunday 8th September
08:30 – Warm Up
11:50 – Race 1 (13 Laps)
14:20 – Race 2 (13 Laps)

All times are PST. BST +8/CET +9