2010 Race of Italy 2010 Race of Italy start Managing tyre wear is one of the biggest challenges at Monza

The Race of Italy, the third event of the 2011 World Touring Car Championship season happens this weekend at the historic Monza circuit.

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

The round at Monza – known as Italy’s ‘Temple of Speed’ – is one of the most anticipated on the WTCC calendar, along with one of its most traditional.

The high-speed circuit has played host to the championship since it was re-formed in 2005, and remained on the calendar every year, with the exception of 2009 when the Monza circuit mapRace of Italy occurred at the Imola circuit.

The event is widely popular with fans, who flock to the circuit to support local hero Gabriele Tarquini, while Swiss fans will also make the trip south over the border to support front-running drivers Alain Menu and Fredy Barth.

The major manufacturers have all enjoyed success at this circuit, which will reward a car with a good aerodynamic profile, a strong engine and a set-up that doesn’t punish its tyres too much.

Last year’s two races both features several spectacular tyre failures in the closing laps, creating some surprise results, with Andy Priaulx winning in his BMW in the opening race, while Yvan Muller repeated the feat for Chevrolet in the second race.

The SEATs – by contrast, having enjoyed the most wins of any manufacturer here – found themselves struggling with tyre wear. Tarquini lost a certain win when he and second-placed Robert Huff both blew their front-left tyres on the final lap, and Michel Nykjær was robbed of his maiden WTCC win when the same fate befell him in Race 2.

This race is also the first in 2011 where changes to the cars’ compensation weights will be made, and it’s little surprise to see that all-conquering Chevrolet Cruze turbos fitted with the maximum 40kg of performance ballast. Meanwhile, the SEAT León TDI and BMW 320TCs will run with no penalty ballast due their average lap times being some 0.7 seconds slower than the Chevrolets in the opening two races of the season.

The Volvo C30 and normally-aspirated BMW 320si will run with a base weight that is a further 20kg lighter than the SEATs.

2011 WTCC Race of Italy Poster However, this may change if, as is expected, Volvo and SEAT decide to fit any of their respective cars with their new 1.6-litre turbo engines, and both marques will make their decision after running in a free test session on Thursday. Should any of these cars opt for the new engines, they will run with the maximum 40kg of penalty ballast as a ‘new car’.

The form team heading into this weekend is undoubtedly the factory RML Chevrolet outfit, which is enjoying a close three-way tussle between its drivers for the championship lead. Should the BMWs and SEATs be able to get their act together, then their front-running drivers could pose some serious competition. Expect the two races to be very closely fought this weekend.

A field of twenty-two drivers is listed for this weekend’s two nine-lap races, with Turkish driver Ibrahim Okyay making a one-off return to the championship after a two-year absence. He will enter a normally-aspirated BMW 320si as he evaluates a full-time return to the series in 2012.

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

 

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

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 SEAT SEAT León 2.0 TDI 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 SEAT SEAT León 2.0 TDI 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
13. Borusan Otomotiv Motorsport BMW BMW 320 TC Ibrahim Okyay TUR
15. ROAL Motorsport BMW BMW 320 TC Tom Coronel NED
17. SUNRED SEAT SEAT León 2.0 TDI Michel Nykjær DEN
18. SUNRED SEAT SEAT León 2.0 TDI Tiago Monteiro POR
20. Scuderia Proteam BMW BMW 320 TC Javier Villa García ESP
21. Scuderia Proteam BMW BMW 320si Fabio Fabiani ITA
25. Scuderia Proteam BMW BMW 320 TC Mehdi Bennani MOR
30. Polestar Volvo Volvo Volvo C30 Robert Dahlgren SWE
35. Wiechers-Sport BMW BMW 320 TC Urs Sonderegger SUI
65. Deteam KK Motorsport BMW BMW 320 TC Marchy Lee Ying Kin HKG
74. SUNRED SEAT SEAT León 2.0 TDI Pepe Oriola ESP

 * Subject to final FIA confirmation

[Original images via FIA WTCC official site]

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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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