2012 WTCC Race of USA Preview

After a long summer break, the FIA World Touring Car Championship action gets underway for the ninth event on the calendar at Sonoma Raceway in California, marking the first time that the championship has visited the United States.

As usual, RichardsF1.com will be reporting from the sidelines, and we’ll bring you all of the action and gossip from Sonoma as the action gets underway. Let’s take a look at our mega race preview…


The Circuit

2012 WORLD TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP RACE OF USA 
  Sonoma Raceway
Date: 21-23 September
Venue:
Snoma Raceway, California, United States
Lap Length: 4.032km
Event Schedule: Free Test Session Fri 13:45-14:15
  Free Practice Session 1 Sat 09:00-09:30
Free Practice Session 2 Sat 11:30-12:00
Qualifying Session 1 Sat 14:15-14:35
Qualifying Session 2 (Top-12 Fastest Runners) Sat 14:40-14:50
Sunday Warm-Up Sun 09:00-09:15
Race 1 (15 laps, 60km) Sun 12:20-12:50
Race 2 (15 laps, 60km) Sun 13:35-14:05

Featuring some of the greatest elevation changes in motorsport, Sonoma Raceway is certainly a spectacular-looking circuit.

However, it has generally failed – at least in its better-known history as a host of the IndyCar Series – to produce much in the way of overtaking and serious wheel-to-wheel action.

That being said – and as we have seen at circuits like the Hungaroring earlier this year
– that doesn’t preclude the touring cars from being able to provide a good show.

A 14-storey climb greets the cars just as they move through Turn 1, and the blind apex through Turn 2 certainly creates a challenge for drivers. The lure of overtaking often blurs the line between that and common sense, and more often than not will lead to a collision and plenty of sandy off-circuit wheel-spinning.

Given the track’s characteristics, the real-wheel-drive BMWs will probably find their requirements for smooth power delivery really tested around a circuit where many of the acceleration and braking zones are off-camber. Expect their front-wheel-drive rivals from SEAT, Chevrolet and Ford to be closely competitive this weekend.


The Players

This weekend sees a couple of changes in the line-up from the last time the pack raced in anger at Brazil.

It would appear that Pasquale di Sabatino may have been quietly dropped from Bamboo Engineering’s race line-up, with the team opting to take the services of American touring car driver Robb Holland for this weekend’s event.

Holland has recently been competing in the British Touring Car Championship in a Team HARD Honda Civic, and has past experience racing at Sonoma Raceway in the Pirelli World Challenge.

As we reported earlier this week, the Proteam Motorsport outfit is back to a two-car effort for the first time in almost six months, with 50-year-old Italian Felice Tedeschi raising the sufficient funds to buy himself a one-off drive with the BMW outfit. Given that Tedeschi last raced in last year’s Italian Superstars championship, he is likely to struggle to keep pace with the rest of the pack.

 

2012 FIA World Touring Car Championship Entry List (Race of United States):

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 Racing Team SEAT SEAT León WTCC Gabriele Tarquini ITA
4. Lukoil Racing Team SEAT SEAT León WTCC Aleksei Dudukalo* RUS
5. Zengõ Motorsport BMW BMW 320 TC Norbert Michelisz* HUN
6. Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW BMW 320 TC Franz Engstler* DEU
7. Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW BMW 320 TC Charles Ka-Ki Ng* HKG
8. RML Chevrolet Chevrolet Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Alain Menu SUI
11. Bamboo Engineering Chevrolet Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Alex MacDowell* GBR
14. Team Aon Ford Ford Focus S2000 TC James Nash GBR
15. ROAL Motorsport BMW BMW 320 TC Tom Coronel NED
16. ROAL Motorsport BMW BMW 320 TC Alberto Cerqui* ITA
18. Tuenti Racing Team Sunred SR León 1.6T Tiago Monteiro POR
20. Special Tune Racing SEAT SEAT León WTCC Darryl O’Young* HKG
22. Special Tune Racing SEAT SEAT León WTCC Tom Boardman* GBR
23. Team Aon Ford Ford Focus S2000 TC Tom Chilton GBR
25. Proteam Racing BMW BMW 320 TC Mehdi Bennani* MOR
26. Wiechers-Sport BMW BMW 320 TC Stefano D’Aste* ITA
29. Bamboo Engineering Chevrolet Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Robb Holland USA
48. Proteam Racing BMW BMW 320 TC Felice Tedeschi* ITA
74. Tuenti Racing Team SEAT SEAT León WTCC Pepe Oriola* ESP
88. Tuenti Racing Team SEAT SEAT León WTCC Fernando Monje* ESP

 * Denotes Yokohama Independent Trophy competitor. Entry list is subject to final FIA confirmation.

This promises to be another fascinating installment of World Touring Car Championship action. As always, make sure you visit RichardsF1.com for all of the latest news and analysis from Sonoma!


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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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