The final round of the 2012 FIA World Touring Car Championship season gets underway this weekend, with the series playing a starring role alongside with world famous Formula 3 Grand Prix.
Fittingly, the championship battle comes down to the wire here. All three of Chevrolet’s works drivers are in with a chance of claiming championship glory in the final year of the carmaker’s involvement in the championship.
As usual, RichardsF1.com will be reporting from the sidelines, and we’ll bring you all of the action and gossip from Macau as the action gets underway. Let’s take a look at our mega race preview…
|2012 WORLD TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP GUIA RACE OF MACAU
|Date:||15-18 November 2012|
Circuito da Guia, Macau
|Event Schedule:||Free Test Session||Thu 13:50-14:20|
|Free Practice Session 1||Fri 08:30-09:00|
|Free Practice Session 2||Fri 12:15-12:45|
|Qualifying Session 1||Fri 15:25-15:55|
|Qualifying Session 2 (Top-12 Fastest Runners)||Fri 16:00-16:15|
|Sunday Warm-Up||Sun 08:15-08:30|
|Race 1 (9 laps, 56km)||Sun 11:05-11:35|
|Race 2 (9 laps, 56km)||Sun 12:20-12:40|
Macau’s infamous Guia street circuit will play host to the traditional season finale, with the championship being one of the support races for the prestigious Formula 3 Grand Prix.
The layout consists of several flat-out straights along the waterfront before the track heads inland and climbs up and down through the city’s narrow side streets. Many of the corners are completely blind, and the close confines of the track will punish the smallest mistake.
Trying to determine an effective set-up – that copes with both the long front straights and the twisty infield – is a huge challenge for drivers and teams, and it’s not unusual to see extreme set-ups being selected.
The entry list for this weekend’s pair of nine-lap races is the biggest of the 2012 season, with no less than 29 drivers entered for the final round of the championship.
As usual, there’s a healthy dose of local drivers who’ve stumped up the entry fee to have a go competing alongside the world’s best touring car drivers, as well as a few traditional visitors making their return to the series.
|André Couto and Jo Merszei will be among eight drivers flying the Macanese flag this weekend|
André Couto is one of two guest drivers making his regular Macau appearance. The Portuguese-born driver will take over the SUNRED León 1.6T previously piloted by Tiago Monteiro, Hiroki Yoshimoto and Hugo Valente this season.
The other regular guest racer is Jo Merszei, who will again get behind the wheel of a normally-aspirated BMW 320si entered by the Liqui Moly Engstler team, which has previously been piloted by Masaki Kano and Alex Liu.
2012 FIA World Touring Car Championship Entry List (Guia Race of Macau):
|1.||RML Chevrolet||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||Yvan Muller|
|2.||RML Chevrolet||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||Robert Huff|
|3.||Lukoil Racing Team||SEAT León WTCC||Gabriele Tarquini|
|4.||Lukoil Racing Team||SEAT León 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*|
|14.||Team Aon||Ford Focus S2000 TC||James Nash|
|15.||ROAL Motorsport||BMW 320 TC||Tom Coronel|
|18.||Honda Racing Team JAS||Honda Civic S2000 TC||Tiago Monteiro|
|20.||Bamboo Engineering||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||Darryl O’Young*|
|22.||Special Tune Racing||SEAT León WTCC||Tom Boardman*|
|23.||Team Aon||Ford Focus S2000 TC||Tom Chilton|
|25.||Proteam Racing||BMW 320 TC||Mehdi Bennani*|
|26.||Wiechers-Sport||BMW 320 TC||Stefano D’Aste*|
|46.||ROAL Motorsport||BMW 320 TC||Kei Cozzolino*|
|50.||China Dragon Racing||Chevrolet Lacetti||Filipe de Souza*|
|51.||China Dragon Racing||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||Ng Kin Veng*|
|55.||China Dragon Racing||Chevrolet Lacetti||Célio Alves Dias*|
|66.||Tuenti Racing Team||SR León 1.6T||André Couto|
|73.||SEAT Swiss Racing||SEAT León WTCC||Fredy Barth*|
|74.||Tuenti Racing Team||SEAT León WTCC||Pepe Oriola*|
|77.||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||BMW 320si||Josep Rosa Merszei*|
|78.||RPM Racing||BMW 320si||Mak Ka Lok*|
|81.||Five Auto Racing Team||Honda Accord Euro-R||Eurico de Jesus*|
|82.||Five Auto Racing Team||BMW 320si||Henry Ho Wai Kun*|
|88.||Tuenti Racing Team||SEAT León WTCC||Fernando Monje*|
* Denotes Yokohama Independent Trophy competitor. Entry list is subject to final FIA confirmation.
The Form Guide
As was the case last year, it’s an all-Chevrolet battle for championship honours, with team-mates Rob Huff, Alain Menu and defending champion Yvan Muller battling it out for the Drivers’ crown.
On the back of an incredibly consistent season, Huff is the man best positioned to claim his first championship title. The Englishman is the only man to have won back-to-back races on the daunting street circuit, and with a 35-point cushion over his nearest rival, he simply needs a podium finish in the first race to almost put the title out of reach.
He came into last year’s race with a 20-point deficit to Muller, and despite claiming victory in both races, it wasn’t enough to claim the crown as he ultimately lost out to Muller by a scant three points.
This time it’s Muller who has to attack. The man who has led the championship all season long has had a disastrous sequence of flyaway rounds in the United States and the Far East. Now he lies a considerable 41 points adrift of Huff, and having never won on the streets of Macau, nothing less than a near-perfect round will do if he’s to even have a sniff of claiming a fourth WTCC title.
Lying in the middle is Alain Menu, who has his best shot of snatching his first WTCC crown after perpetually playing the role of bridesmaid in previous seasons. The Swiss driver has been a star performer this year – despite some bad luck, particularly coming off worse for wear in stoushes with Muller – and will need some of that bad luck to rub off on Huff if he is to bask in championship glory himself.
One must not forget the battle for the Yokohama Independents’ Trophy, which is also an open fight between three drivers.
|Who will claim Independent Trophy championship honours?|
Norbert Michelisz narrowly leads the points race over Pepe Oriola and Stefano D’Aste, and it is the latter who holds the championship momentum after both Michelisz and Oriola suffered poor runs of form in the recent flyaway rounds.
D’Aste – a two-time outright race-winner this year – claimed two Independent Class wins last time out at Shanghai, while Michelisz and Oriola failed to score in either race, and that result brought the flamboyant driver right back into championship contention.
It will be a fascinating fight between the trio, and with double points on offer, it’s still anyone’s to claim.
This is all set to be a fitting final act in an enthralling 2012 World Touring Car Championship season. As always, make sure you visit RichardsF1.com for all of the latest news and analysis from Macau!
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