2013 WTCC Race of Portugal Preview 2013 WTCC Race of Portugal Preview 2013 WTCC Race of Portugal Preview

It’s been a hotly contested season of the FIA World Touring Car Championship, and this weekend sees the curtain brought down on the series’ European leg of the championship campaign.

Let’s take a look at our preview of this year’s Race of Portugal, which will be held around the tight and twisty streets of Porto…

The Circuit

Circuito da Boavista
Date: 29-30 June 2013
Venue: Circuito da Boavista, downtown Porto, Portugal
Lap Length: 4.800km
Race Lap Record: 2:05.846, Rob Huff (Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T) – 2011
Event Schedule: Free Practice Session 1 Sat 09:15-09:45
  Free Practice Session 2 Sat 11:30-12:00
Qualifying Session 1 Sat 15:00-15:30
Qualifying Session 2 Sat 15:35:15:50
Sunday Warm-Up Sun 09:00-09:15
Race 1 (11 laps, 53km) Sun 11:20-11:50
Race 2 (12 laps, 53km) Sun 17:05-17:35
Past Winners: Yvan Muller (Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T) 2012 (Race 1)*
Alain Menu (Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T) 2012 (Race 2)*
Alain Menu (Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T) 2011 (Race 1)
Robert Huff (Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T) 2011 (Race 2)
Tiago Monteiro (SR León TDi) 2010 (Race 1)*
Gabriele Tarquini (SR León TDi) 2010 (Race 2)*
Gabriele Tarquini (SR León TDi) 2009 (Race 1)
Augusto Farfus (BMW 320si) 2009 (Race 2)
Richard Rydell (SEAT León TDi) 2008 (Race 1)**
Tiago Monteiro (SEAT León TDi) 2008 (Race 2)**
Alain Menu (Chevrolet Lacetti) 2007 (Race 1)
Andy Priaulx (BMW 320si) 2007 (Race 2)

* Denotes event held at Algarve
** Denotes event held at Estoril

Circuito da Boavista

Porto’s Circuito da Boavista is one of three street circuits on the 2013 World Touring Car Championship calendar, with the others being at Marrakech and the traditional season-ending round at Macau.

One of the slowest circuit’s on the calendar, the average speed around the 4.8-kilometre lap barely tops out at 120km/h, and its a vast contrast from the plunging the Algarve circuit that played host to last year’s Race of Portugal.

Circuit da BoavistaLike 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.

Take a look at Tom Coronel’s view of the Circuito da Boavista:

The Players

The final European round of the year sees the season’s biggest 25 cars competing around the tight and twisty circuit, with Tom Boardman (Special Tune Racing) and Hugo Valente (Campos Racing) both returning to the fold in their SEAT León WTCC entries.

The other change in the field is that SEAT stalwart Pepe Oriola has changed machines. The Spanish teenager has parted ways with SEAT and will compete in an ex-RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T for the remainder of the season. For more on that story, click here.

Here’s this weekend’s provisional entry list:

No. Entrant Car Driver
1. Münnich Motorsport SEAT SEAT León WTCC 1.6T Robert Huff GBR
3. Castrol Honda WTCC Team Honda Honda Civic WTCC Gabriele Tarquini ITA
5. Zengõ Motorsport Honda Honda Civic WTCC 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. LADA Sport Lukoil LADA LADA Granta Mikhail Koslovskiy RUS
9. Bamboo Engineering Chevrolet Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Alex MacDowall* GBR
10. LADA Sport Lukoil LADA LADA Granta James Thompson GBR
12. RML Chevrolet Chevrolet Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Yvan Muller FRA
14. Bamboo Engineering Chevrolet Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T James Nash* GBR
15. ROAL Motorsport BMW BMW 320 TC Tom Coronel NED
17. NIKA Racing Chevrolet Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Michel Nykjær* DEN
18. Castrol Honda WTCC Team Honda Honda Civic WTCC Tiago Monteiro POR
19. Campos Racing SEAT SEAT León WTCC 1.6T Fernando Monje* ESP
20. Campos Racing SEAT SEAT León WTCC 1.6T Hugo Valente* FRA
21. Campos Racing SEAT SEAT León WTCC 1.6T Nikolay Karamyshev* RUS
22. Special Tune Racing SEAT SEAT León WTCC 1.6T Tom Boardman* GBR
23. RML Chevrolet Chevrolet Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Tom Chilton GBR
25. Proteam Racing BMW BMW 320 TC Mehdi Bennani* MOR
26. PB Racing BMW BMW 320 TC Stefano D’Aste* ITA
37. Münnich Motorsport SEAT SEAT León WTCC 1.6T René Münnich* DEU
38. Münnich Motorsport SEAT SEAT León WTCC 1.6T Marc Basseng DEU
55. ROAL Motorsport BMW BMW 320 TC Darryl O’Young* HKG
73. Wiechers-Sport BMW BMW 320 TC Fredy Barth* SUI
74. Tuenti Racing Team Chevrolet Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Pepe Oriola ESP

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

Facts, Stats & Predictions

You’d have to rewind the clock back to 2010 to recall the last time that anything other than a Chevrolet Cruze took victory in the World Touring Car Championship’s visits to Portugal, and on the basis of current form, it’s hard to see how championship leader Yvan Muller won’t repeat the dose at least once come Sunday afternoon.

The Frenchman is in imperious form. Miles in front in the Drivers’ Championship race, he could switch to a more conservative mode for the remainder of the season and probably still emerge on top for a fourth WTCC crown. But that’s not his style. Muller is an artisan behind the wheel, and he’ll want nothing less than a perfect weekend with two race wins.

Of course, his closest challenge is likely to come from his own camp. RML teammate Tom Chilton is desperate to claim his maiden win, while the Bamboo Engineering duo of James Nash and Alex MacDowall have been consistently competitive as they chase fellow Chevrolet runner Michel Nykjær in the battle for the Independent Trophy honours.

Nykjær has been particularly impressive in his full-time return to the WTCC. The solid Dane has claimed three wins in his NIKA Racing Chevrolet, showing excellent speed in both qualifying and the races to lie third overall in the Drivers’ Championship standings.

The three-car Honda effort is also well-placed to do well this weekend, after being a 30 kilogram weight reduction in the latest round of round-by-round compensation weight adjustments to keep the field closely bunched. Local driver Tiago Monteiro will be looking to do well at his home event – as he has typically done, claiming two wins on Portuguese soil – after a troubled start to his 2013 season.

With all five manufacturers performing well last time out at Moscow Raceway, the battle for midfield honours could be a closely-fought affair. Expect a variety of runners in BMW, LADA and SEAT colours to feature over the weekend.

This again promises to be a fascinating weekend of touring car action. As always, make sure you visit RichardsF1.com for all of the latest news and analysis from Portugal!

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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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