It was another bumper weekend a fortnight ago when the FIA World Touring Car Championship went to Morocco, and this weekend sees the entire field head to eastern Europe and for its first ever event in Slovakia.
RichardsF1.com will be bringing you all of the action and the latest news from the Slovakia Ring as the world’s best tin-top aces go racing once again. Let’s take a look at our race preview…
|2012 WORLD TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP RACE OF SLOVAKIA
|Date:||28-29 April 2012|
|Race Lap Record:||N/A|
|Event Schedule:||Free Practice Session 1||Sat 09:45-10:15|
|Free Practice Session 2||Sat 12:30-13:00|
|Qualifying Session 1||Sat 15:00-15:20|
|Qualifying Session 2||Sat 15:25-15:35|
|Sunday Warm-Up||Sun 08:45-09:00|
|Race 1 (10 laps, 59km)||Sun 14:20-14:50|
|Race 2 (10 laps, 59km)||Sun 15:35-16:05|
The Automotodróm Slovakia Ring is in Orechová Potôň, Dunajská Streda District near Slovakia’s capital city, Bratislava.
One of the longest circuits on the calendar at 5.9 kilometres in length, the Slovakia Ring is a medium-speed circuit with a mix of largely constant-radius corners, a pair of wide 900-metre long straights and a couple of wicked blind crests and elevation changes.
Its switchback nature gives spectators great viewing opportunities from the circuit’s grandstands, and the event is guaranteed to be well-attended.
This weekend’s event will see a field of 22 drivers battling for top honours, although one driver makes his return to the action, while another is forced to miss out.
Hungarian racer Gábor Wéber, who was forced to miss the previous event at Morocco after suffering the effects of a recurrent wrist injury, will be back behind the wheel in his Zengo Motorsport BMW 320TC alongside his compatriot Norbert Michelisz.
Missing in action will be Spanish driver Isaac Tutumlu, with the rookie driver to remain sidelined this weekend while his Proteam BMW mechanics continue to work on repairing his badly battered car after the previous round at Marrakech.
2012 FIA World Touring Car Championship Entry List (Race of Morocco):
|1.||RML Chevrolet||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||Yvan Muller|
|2.||RML Chevrolet||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||Robert Huff|
|3.||Lukoil Racing Team||SEAT León 1.6T WTCC||Gabriele Tarquini|
|4.||Lukoil Racing Team||SEAT León 1.6T WTCC||Aleksei Dudukalo*|
|5.||Zengõ Motorsport||BMW 320 TC||Norbert Michelisz*|
|6.||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||BMW 320 TC||Franz Engstler*|
|7.||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||BMW 320 TC||Charles Ka-Ki Ng*|
|8.||RML Chevrolet||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||Alain Menu|
|11.||Bamboo Engineering||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||Alex MacDowell*|
|12.||Bamboo Engineering||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||Pasquale di Sabatino*|
|14.||Team Aon||Ford Focus S2000 TC||James Nash|
|15.||ROAL Motorsport||BMW 320 TC||Tom Coronel|
|16.||ROAL Motorsport||BMW 320 TC||Alberto Cerqui*|
|18.||Tuenti Racing Team||SUNRED León 1.6T||Tiago Monteiro|
|20.||Special Tune Racing||SEAT León 1.6T WTCC||Darryl O’Young*|
|22.||Special Tune Racing||SEAT León 2.0 TDi||Tom Boardman*|
|23.||Team Aon||Ford Focus S2000 TC||Tom Chilton|
|24.||Proteam Racing||BMW 320 TC||Isaac Tutumlu*|
|25.||Proteam Racing||BMW 320 TC||Mehdi Bennani*|
|26.||Wiechers-Sport||BMW 320 TC||Stefano D’Aste*|
|27.||Zengõ Motorsport||BMW 320 TC||Gábor Wéber*|
|40.||SUNRED Engineering||SUNRED León 1.6T||Andrea Barlesi*|
|74.||Tuenti Racing Team||SEAT León 1.6T WTCC||Pepe Oriola*|
* Denotes Yokohama Independent Trophy competitor. Entry list is subject to final FIA confirmation.
Facts, Stats & Predictions
It’s always exciting when a championship visits a circuit for the very first time, and given the dominance that we’ve seen from the works Chevrolet squad – which has won all of the six races this season – their rivals will no doubt welcome the more level playing field that a new circuit brings.
There hasn’t been massive amounts of top-tier racing at the Slovakia Ring, so trying to make any meaningful predictions this weekend is a challenge. To our minds, the circuit bears some similarities with Oschersleben, which also has the characteristics of high-speed sections and a twistier infield.
Historically, that kind of circuit suits the rear-wheel-drive BMWs better than their front-wheel-drive counterparts from Chevrolet, SEAT and Ford, so this might play into the hands of those runners in the 320TC challengers.
SEAT will be hoping for improved reliability with its new turbo engine after a challenging last round at Morocco, where lead driver Gabriele Tarquini (in particular) struggled with technical maladies. Rather more pleasing for the Spanish squad is the form of teenage racer Pepe Oriola, who has proven to be something of a sensation in the opening rounds.
Ford will arrive in Slovakia brimming with confidence after their most competitive showing to-date, with both James Nash and Tom Chilton claiming points finishes at Morocco in the new Focus S2000 car. Could they be on for another strong round here?
The proof will be in the practice and qualifying times, and this weekend again promises to be another very interesting instalment of touring car action. As always, make sure you visit RichardsF1.com for all of the latest news and analysis from Slovakia!