Compensation weight comes into play from Hungary
The FIA World Touring Car Championship’s European season kicks off this weekend at the Hungaroring, home to Norbert Michelisz, who will be chasing his first race victory since October 2013 in the Zengő Motorsport Honda Civic, but it’s the Citroëns who will be the most fancied after their early season performance, although they will now be 60kg heavier than their competition.
Defending champion José María López has won two of the first four races of the season, with Sébastien Loeb and Yvan Muller having won the two reversed grid races in Argentina and Morocco, and the three Citroën team-mates go to Hungary in the top three spots in the standings.
“I like this circuit. There’s a lot of rhythm in it,” said Yvan Muller, who has the strongest record at the circuit. “It is true that the stats suggest I should be the favourite, but I think we’re going to suffer from the ballast, particularly at the Hungaroring. We’re going to have to pull out all the stops in qualifying to have a chance of winning.”
Last year it was Gianni Morbidelli who took victory in the second race from the reversed grid in the Münnich Motorsport Chevrolet, with overtaking shown to be almost impossible as he held off the Honda of Tiago Monteiro throughout the whole race, while the Citroëns were trapped behind Tom Coronel’s ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet.
“We noticed last year that our car was less at ease on the winding circuits,” said Citroën team principal Yves Matton. “So that was something the team worked on when it came to making changes to the Citroën C-Elysée WTCC for 2015. Those efforts will come in handy as the compensation weights kick in. From this meeting onwards, we will have to carry an extra 60 kg, while our rivals will have zero ballast.”
Honda have been the closest on pace to the Citroëns during the first two race meetings, with Gabriele Tarquini and Tiago Monteiro currently fifth and sixth in the standings, and with Honda having introduced an updated aero package at this week’s test at the Nürburgring Nordschleife.
“I’m quite optimistic for good results in Budapest,” said Tarquini. “We now lose 60kgs of ballast which should make an impact on our race pace, plus the characteristics of the Civic will come to favour here so I am expecting us to be more competitive.”
Team-mate Tiago Monteiro added:
“I’m really motivated for this weekend. The Hungaroring is a very technical track, which suits our car well. We’ve a great chassis and the car is very strong under braking and turn-in, which is a necessity for a track like this. Plus we have the new aero kit coming in, which should really improve handling through the medium and high speed corners. I’m really hoping to be in the fight for the front.”
Lada have had a busy two weeks’ since the last race at Marrakech after a collision involving the cars of Rob Huff and Mikhail Kozlovskiy meant the team had to turn around their spare car into a new race chassis for Huff for this weekend, whilst also repairing the Vesta TC1 of Kozlovskiy.
James Thompson’s car emerged from Marrakech unscathed despite an intermittent power steering issue which affected all three cars at the Moroccan circuit. Reliability, and best behaviour, worked in Thompson’s favour however, as he crossed the line to pick up a point with tenth, but then was promoted to seventh after the stewards handed out a raft of penalties to other drivers for on-track incidents.
The entry list for the weekend features 17 cars, with Nika International driver Rickard Rydell being forced to sit out yet another race due to thyroiditis.
Dusan Borkovic is also listed as the official entry for Proteam Racing in the #98 Honda Civic of Proteam Racing, but the Serbian has already confirmed his plan to leave the team and drive in the ETCC instead this weekend in the Single-Make Trophy class. The entry of Borkovic is more a formality, with Proteam having confirmed they plan to take legal action against the 30-year-old should he not participate with them this weekend.
Race of Hungary Entry List
No – Driver – Nat – Team – Car
2 – Gabriele Tarquini – ITA – Honda Racing Team JAS – Honda Civic WTCC
3 – Tom Chilton* – GBR – ROAL Motorsport – Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1
4 – Tom Coronel* – NED – ROAL Motorsport – Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1
5 – Norbert Michelisz* – HUN – Zengő Motorsport – Honda Civic WTCC
7 – Hugo Valente* – FRA – Campos Racing – Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1
9 – Sébastien Loeb – FRA – Citroën Total WTCC – Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
11 – Gregoire Demoustier* – FRA – Craft-Bamboo – Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1
12 – Rob Huff – GBR – Lada Sport Rosneft – Lada Vesta WTCC
15 – James Thompson – GBR – Lada Sport Rosneft – Lada Vesta WTCC
18 – Tiago Monteiro – POR – Honda Racing Team JAS – Honda Civic WTCC
19 – Rickard Rydell° – SWE – Nika International – Honda Civic WTCC
25 – Mehdi Bennani* – MOR – Sébastien Loeb Racing – Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
26 – Stefano D’Aste* – ITA – Münnich Motorsport – Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1
27 – John Filippi* – FRA – Campos Racing – Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1
33 – Ma Qing Hua – CHN – Citroën Total WTCC – Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
37 – José María López – ARG – Citroën Total WTCC – Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
68 – Yvan Muller – FRA – Citroën Total WTCC – Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
98 – Dusan Borkovic*^ – SRB – Proteam Racing – Honda Civic WTCC
* Driver eligible for the Yokohama Independents’ Trophy
^ Driver announced withdrawal from the championship, team filed entry
° Driver announced withdrawal from the race due to illness
Race of Hungary Timetable
Saturday 2nd May
09:00 – Free Practice 1
11:30 – Free Practice 2
14:30 – Qualifying
Sunday 3rd May
13:30 – Race 1 (14 Laps)
14:40 – Race 2 (14 Laps)
All times local time (CET)
Race of Hungary Compensation Weight
Car – Final Weight – Ballast
Citroën C-Elysée WTCC – 1,160kg – +60kg
Honda Civic WTCC – 1,100kg – +0kg
Lada Vesta WTCC – 1,100kg – +0kg
Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 – 1,100kg – +0kg