The Race of Germany, the eighth event of the 2011 World Touring Car Championship season occurs this weekend at the Oschersleben circuit.
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 GERMANY
|Date:||30-31 July 2011||Lap Length:||3.696km|
|Race Lap Record:||1:36.543, Alain Menu (Chevrolet Cruze LT) – 2010|
|Event Schedule:||Free Practice Session 1||Sat 08:30-09:00|
|Free Practice Session 2||Sat 12:00-12:30|
|Qualifying Q1||Sat 15:00-15:20|
|Qualifying Q2||Sat 15:25-15:35|
|Race 1 (14 laps, 52km)||Sun 12:05-12:35|
|Race 2 (13 laps, 52km)||Sun 13:20-13:50|
|Past Winners: 2005||Race 1: Andy Priaulx (BMW 320i)|
|Race 2: Alessandro Zanardi (BMW 320i)|
|2006||Race 1: Andy Priaulx (BMW 320si)|
|Race 2: Jörg Müller (BMW 320si)|
|2007||Race 1: Yvan Muller (SEAT León TDi)|
|Race 2: Augusto Farfus (BMW 320si)|
|2008||Race 1: Augusto Farfus (BMW 320si)|
|Race 2: Félix Porteiro (BMW 320si)|
|2009||Race 1: Andy Priaulx (BMW 320si)|
|Race 2: Augusto Farfus (BMW 320si)|
|2010||Race 1: Alain Menu (Chevrolet Cruze)|
|Race 2: Andy Priaulx (BMW 320si)|
Located in the Borde region some 30km south of the city of Magdeburg, the Oschersleben circuit has been a mainstay on the World Touring Car Championship calendar since the series was re-formed in 2005. This being the home circuit well-suited to the BMWs, the event always attracts large crowds and is one of the highlights of the season.
A narrow, flat circuit, its smooth and fast nature calls for plenty of finesse. It’s hard to string a sequence of consistently quick laps together on this track, and drivers will need to exercise care when cutting over some of the raised kerbs, which have been known to damage suspension in the past.
The main hazard on the track is the absurdly tight open complex of corners, particularly the first left-hander, where contact, damage and driver penalties are as common as the bent car panels that result.
This weekend’s round sees the grid increased to 21 entries, by dint of Turkish Touring Car Championship winner Ibrahim Okyay rejoining the series for his second outing of the season. Piloting his bright blue normally-aspirated BMW 320si (rather unusually with the #13), he is unlikely to feature at the sharp end of the field, and will be competing alongside Fabio Fabiani for the wooden spoon.
The other notable change from the last round at Donington is the return of Stefano D’Aste, who rejoins the Wiechers-Sport team after Colin Turkington quite capably took his seat on home soil while D’Aste fulfilled his commitments in the GT4 championship that weekend.
2011 FIA World Touring Car Championship Entry List (Race of Germany):
|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||SR León 1.6T||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|
|13.||Borusan Otomotiv Motorsport||BMW 320si||Ibrahim Okyay|
|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|
|21.||Scuderia Proteam||BMW 320si||Fabio Fabiani|
|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
On their home track, history suggests that the circuit should finally present BMW with its first win of the championship season, with the German marque having won all but two of the dozen WTCC races held here to-date.
The only times a BMW has not taken the top step of the podium came in 2007, when Yvan Muller took SEAT’s first diesel win, and last year, when Alain Menu won in his Chevrolet. Surely this weekend will be all about which BMW driver can finally claim victory here?
Tom Coronel is the most likely candidate on form alone, but he’ll be given a close run by Norbert Michelisz once again. The two Engstler BMWs of Kristian Poulsen and Franz Engstler (the only local driver in the field) could also be candidates, especially after Engstler’s podium result at the last round at Donington. And the Wiechers-Sport entry of Stefano D’Aste – which is based not far from the circuit – could also throw up a surprise result.
More biffing and barging between the Chevrolet drivers at Donington could see tensions running sky high as this weekend’s activities progress, particularly with Yvan Muller having made a slight dent in Robert Huff’s championship lead. The relationship between the pair is becoming frostier, and any further antagonism between them could allow a rival to pick up the pieces.
The SEATs will be coming into this weekend with a lighter car – courtesy of a reduction in competition ballast this weekend – and they could be better placed to rack up some more points and possibly challenge for the lower podium spots. A poor round for Tiago Monteiro will see the Portuguese driver hungry to do well here, while Gabriele Tarquini would be wise to avoid too much contact with other drivers this weekend, having somehow escaped any sanction after an untidy round at Donington.
With Volvo having never competed here in the WTCC, it’s difficult to read too much into their chances this weekend, although Robert Dahlgren is surely due some good luck, if only he can string an entire weekend together properly. One just feels that the Polestar outfit would do much better with a two-car operation, at least for the sake of getting more data and developments miles.
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 Media]