2013 Race of Slovakia Preview 2013 Race of Slovakia Preview 2013 Race of Slovakia Preview

We’ve already enjoyed two action-packed weekends of racing in the FIA World Touring Car Championship, and after another panel-bending event around the streets of Marrakech, the circus heads northeast to the Slovak Republic to tackle the Slovakia Ring.

The Circuit

Slovakia Ring Circuit Map
Date: 27-28 April 2013
Venue: Slovakia Ring, 40km east of Bratislava, Slovak Republic
Lap Length: 5.922km
Race Lap Record: 2:14.508, Yvan Muller (Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T) – 2012
Event Schedule: Free Practice Session 1 Sat 09:00-09:30
  Free Practice Session 2 Sat 12:00-12:30
Qualifying Session 1 Sat 15:30-15:50
Qualifying Session 2 Sat 15:55-16:05
Sunday Warm-Up Sun 08:45-09:00
Race 1 (10 laps, 59km) Sun 14:50-15:20
Race 2 (10 laps, 59km) Sun 15:20-15:50
Past Winners: Gabriele Tarquini (SEAT León WTCC) 2012 (Race 1)
Rob Huff (Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T) 2012 (Race 2)

The Automotodróm Slovakia Ring is in Orechová Potôň, Dunajská Streda District near Slovakia’s capital city, Bratislava.

Built in 2008-9, it is the country’s principal motor racing circuit, and it has since played host to rounds of the EuroBOSS championship, along with the FIA GT Championship.

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 after last year’s great crowd figures at the inaugural WTCC round staged here.

Rewind to 2012

The Slovakia Ring was a late addition to the 2012 FIA World Touring Car Championship calendar, but its inclusion certainly disappoint the huge throng of motorsport fans who turned up for the series’ inaugural event at the Eastern European venue.

In the opening race, Gabriele Tarquini broke Chevrolet’s stranglehold of the top step of the podium by leading home a SEAT 1-2 ahead of LUKOIL Racing teammate Aleksei Tarquini and Dudukalo claimed a SEAT 1-2 in Race 1Dudukalo. The Italian claimed the lead after a rather forceful pass on Norbert Michelisz’s BMW, and the Hungarian’s woes were compounded when he was tipped into a spin by Yvan Muller just moments later. SEAT would have claimed a podium lockout, only for Pepe Oriola to suffer a puncture with a couple of laps to go, promoting Alain Menu into third place in his Chevrolet.

Rob Huff was one of several drivers to sustain damage in the incident-filled opening race, but his RML Chevrolet team worked miracles to repair his car and have it ready for Sunday’s closing race. He duly survived another action-packed race to lead home teammate Muller, who ultimately came out on top of an entertaining battle with Race 1 winner Tarquini.

The Players

The same 23-car field will line up on the grid for Sunday’s two 10-lap sprint races, although this weekend will mark the first in a series of compensation weight adjustments that will occur over the course of the season to try and ensure some level of party between the five manufacturers. You can check out our story by clicking 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
9. Bamboo Engineering Chevrolet Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Alex MacDowall* GBR
10. LADA Sport Lukoil LADA LADA Granta James Thompson GBR
11. LADA Sport Lukoil LADA LADA Granta Mikhail Koslovskiy RUS
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
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 SEAT SEAT León WTCC 1.6T Pepe Oriola ESP

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

Facts, Stats & Predictions

The opening four races of the season have seen three different race winners spread across two different manufacturers, with Chevrolet and SEAT claiming the honours in Morocco after Yvan Muller’s clean sweep a fortnight earlier at Monza.

On form alone, the Chevrolet Cruze will again be the car to beat despite the additional penalty ballast its five cars will be carrying this weekend. Muller holds a comfortable lead in the Drivers’ Championship standings, and he’ll need a poor weekend for the chasing gaggle of cars to close up.

Nevertheless, the Frenchman will need to keep a close eye on his mirrors if he’s to secure his first win at the circuit, particularly given the solid form shown by his four fellow Cruze runners.

Among the other manufacturers, you certainly can’t discount the Hondas and SEATs from the equation either. Both have shown flashes of speed so far, but lacked the consistency (and luck) to convert this into some major results – Pepe Oriola’s win in Morocco notwithstanding.

BMW will be looking for some serious improvement after two troubled opening events. The 320TC is still the heaviest in the field, and the Slovakia Ring’s constant-radius corners could hurt the rear-wheel-drive’s tyre wear.

And over at LADA, it will benefit from a reduction in its base weight and one can expect James Thompson to be right in the mix in his little Granta WTCC, assuming the team can get its baseline set-up sorted early on. Expect a surprise result from him this weekend.

Nonetheless, this 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 the Slovak Republic!

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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.