Race of Portugal

The Race of Portugal, the sixth event of the 2011 World Touring Car Championship season occurs this weekend on the streets of the seaside city of Porto.

Richard’s F1 previews this weekend’s action and takes a look at some of the talking points leading into this weekend…

The Circuit

2011 FIA WTCC RACE OF PORTUGAL 
Porto
Date: 2-3 July 2011 Lap Length: 4.720km No. Laps 2 x 11 laps
Lap Record: 2:08.829, Robert Huff (Chevrolet Lacetti) – 2007

With the absence of Marrakech from this year’s calendar Porto’s Circuito da Boavista is the only street circuit on the World Touring Car Championship calendar aside from the traditional season-ending round at Macau.

One of the slowest circuit’s on the calendar, the average speed around the 4.7-kilometre lap barely tops out at 110km/h, and its a vast contrast from the plunging the Algarve circuit that played host to last year’s Race of Portugal.

Tight chicanes have slowed speeds at Porto Like many other street circuits, the Porto circuit is very demanding for drivers, and overtaking opportunities are limited within the track’s concrete-lined confines. There are plenty of tight, blind corners and low-speed ‘follow my leader’ sections, while the higher-speed straights have been blunted with the insertion of chicanes to slow the cars down.

 

Memorable Moments

This weekend’s round will be the third to be held at the street circuit venue since the World Touring Car Championship was re-established in 2005, over half a century since the city played host to rounds of the Formula 1 World Championship.

At the 2007 event, the race wins went to Chevrolet and BMW, with Alain Menu and Andy Priaulx claiming a win apiece.

Two years later, Gabriele Tarquini took the victory spoils for SEAT, while Augusto Farfus won the second race in his BMW.

Both previous events have been a panel-beater’s dream, with the teams racking up significant repair bills as the drivers come a cropper on the barriers that closely line the circuit’s surrounds.

 

The Players

A nineteen-car entry list is on the cards this weekend, with the only change being the lacklustre Urs Sonderegger not surprisingly being shown the door by the Wiechers Sport BMW team, which now welcomes former Independents Trophy winner Stefano D’Aste back to the fold.

Marchy Lee is still missing in action, with the latest reports indicating that his Engstler-engineered BMW 320TC will be back no earlier than the upcoming Donington or Oschersleben rounds.

 

2011 FIA World Touring Car Championship Entry List (Race of Portugal):

No. Entrant Car Driver
1. RML Chevrolet Chevrolet Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Yvan Muller FRA
2. RML Chevrolet Chevrolet Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Robert Huff GBR
3. Lukoil-SUNRED Sunred SR León 1.6T Gabriele Tarquini ITA
4. Lukoil-SUNRED SEAT SEAT León 2.0 TDI Aleksei Dudukalo RUS
5. Zengõ-Dension Team BMW BMW 320 TC Norbert Michelisz HUN
7. SEAT Swiss Racing by SUNRED Sunred SR León 1.6T Fredy Barth SUI
8. RML Chevrolet Chevrolet Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Alain Menu SUI
9. Bamboo Engineering Chevrolet Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Darryl O’Young HKG
10. Bamboo Engineering Chevrolet Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Yukinori Taniguchi JPN
11. Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW BMW 320 TC Kristian Poulsen DEN
12. Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW BMW 320 TC Franz Engstler DEU
15. ROAL Motorsport BMW BMW 320 TC Tom Coronel NED
17. SUNRED Engineering Sunred SR León 1.6T Michel Nykjær DEN
18. SUNRED Engineering Sunred SR León 1.6T Tiago Monteiro POR
20. Scuderia Proteam BMW BMW 320 TC Javier Villa García ESP
25. Scuderia Proteam BMW BMW 320 TC Mehdi Bennani MOR
26. Wiechers-Sport BMW BMW 320 TC Stefano D’Aste ITA
30. Polestar Volvo Volvo Volvo C30 1.6T Robert Dahlgren SWE
74. SUNRED Engineering Sunred SR León 1.6T Pepe Oriola ESP

 * Subject to final FIA confirmation

The Form Guide

With the RML Chevrolet squad having won all but one of the races to-date in 2011, the real question is if either SEAT, BMW – or perhaps even Volvo? – can topple the blue 2009 Race of Portugalcars this weekend.

Runaway championship leader Robert Huff has the challenge of maintaining his red-hot form over team-mates Yvan Muller and Alain Menu, both of whom will be desperate to0 avoid any repeat of some of the errors that have impacted some of their race weekends in recent months.

The SUNRED SEAT squad will enjoy its first race weekend competing under the performance ballast regulations, having spent the last two rounds running at the maximum compensation weight by dint of debuting their new 1.6-litre turbocharged engines. Last fortnight’s Race of the Czech Republic was a challenge for the six-car Spanish outfit, but the slower, twistier nature of the Porto circuit could be more suited to the drivers in comparison to other circuits.

BMW will now be desperate to secure its first win having failed to do so for the first time at Brno in the marque’s history of competing at the Czech circuit. Tom Coronel had an impressive weekend after showing plenty of promise at Brno, and the Dutchman will be Race of Portugal Event Posterhungry to notch up a long-overdue race win. Meanwhile, Norbert Michelisz will be wanting to have an incident-free weekend after two incident-filled rounds at Hungary and Brno, and he’ll be hoping for no more racing panel-rubbing with the threat of further sanctions hanging over his head.

And also a mention to Robert Dahlgren in the one-car Volvo operation, who showed an impressive turn of speed at Brno, the first time that the team has fitted its new turbo engine under the bonnet of its C30 challenger. The Swedish driver was quickest through the speed traps and fastest in first qualifying at Brno, and he’ll be looking to threaten for a possible podium position this weekend.

Make sure you stay tuned to the Richard’s F1 website this weekend for the latest news and results in this championship series!

[Original images via FIA WTCC official site and Flickr]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.

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