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…
|2011 FIA WTCC RACE OF PORTUGAL
|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.
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.
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.
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):
|1.||RML Chevrolet||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||Yvan Muller|
|2.||RML Chevrolet||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||Robert Huff|
|3.||Lukoil-SUNRED||SR León 1.6T||Gabriele Tarquini|
|4.||Lukoil-SUNRED||SEAT León 2.0 TDI||Aleksei Dudukalo|
|5.||Zengõ-Dension Team||BMW 320 TC||Norbert Michelisz|
|7.||SEAT Swiss Racing by SUNRED||SR León 1.6T||Fredy Barth|
|8.||RML Chevrolet||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||Alain Menu|
|9.||Bamboo Engineering||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||Darryl O’Young|
|10.||Bamboo Engineering||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||Yukinori Taniguchi|
|11.||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||BMW 320 TC||Kristian Poulsen|
|12.||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||BMW 320 TC||Franz Engstler|
|15.||ROAL Motorsport||BMW 320 TC||Tom Coronel|
|17.||SUNRED Engineering||SR León 1.6T||Michel Nykjær|
|18.||SUNRED Engineering||SR León 1.6T||Tiago Monteiro|
|20.||Scuderia Proteam||BMW 320 TC||Javier Villa García|
|25.||Scuderia Proteam||BMW 320 TC||Mehdi Bennani|
|26.||Wiechers-Sport||BMW 320 TC||Stefano D’Aste|
|30.||Polestar Volvo||Volvo C30 1.6T||Robert Dahlgren|
|74.||SUNRED Engineering||SR León 1.6T||Pepe Oriola|
* Subject to final FIA confirmation
The Form Guide
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 hungry 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!