2013 WTCC Race of Japan 2013 WTCC Race of Japan 2013 WTCC Race of Japan

The FIA World Touring Car Championship heads to Suzuka this weekend for the first of three flyaway races in the Far East that will serve to bring the 2013 season to a close.

With Honda having already won this year’s manufacturers’ title, the stage is now set for Yvan Muller, who – barring an atrocious weekend – will secure a record-breaking fourth drivers’ title.


The Circuit

2013 WORLD TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP RACE OF JAPAN
Suzuka East Circuit
Date: 20-22 September 2013
Venue: Suzuka East Circuit, Suzuka, Japan
Lap Length: 2.243km
Race Lap Record: 0:53.885, Alain Menu (Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T) – 2012
Event Schedule: Open Test Session Fri 13:30-14:00
  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 08:50-09:05
Race 1 (26 laps, 58km) Sun 14:35-15:05
Race 2 (26 laps, 58km) Sun 15:35-1635
Past Winners: Alain Menu (RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T) 2012 (Race 1)
Stefano D’Aste (Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC) 2012 (Race 2)
Alain Menu (Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T) 2011 (Race 1)
Tom Coronel (ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC) 2011 (Race 2)
Rob Huff (RML Chevrolet LT) 2010 (Race 1)*
Colin Turkington (WSR BMW 320si) 2010 (Race 2)*
Andy Priaulx (RBM BMW 320si) 2009 (Race 1)*
Augusto Farfus (RBM BMW 320si) 2009 (Race 2)*
Richard Rydell (SEAT Sport León TDi) 2008 (Race 1)*
Tom Coronel (SUNRED Racing SEAT León TFSI) 2008 (Race 2)*

* Denotes event held at TI Aida Circuit, Okayama

WTCC Race of Japan

The FIA World Touring Car Championship heads east this weekend to the Suzuka International Circuit, which will play host to the first of three rounds in the Far East that make up the final leg of the 2012 season.

This will be the event’s third time running at the Suzuka East Circuit after WTCC organisers announced a switch in venue for the Race of Japan, moving it from its traditional home at the TI Aida Circuit in Okayama to the more accessible Suzuka circuit. Sadly for fans, the race would be run on a much shorter ‘East Circuit’ version of the iconic Grand Prix circuit.

The reason is one of pure practicality: using the full 5.8-kilometre version of the circuit would limit each race to just nine laps apiece, and a lap-time would be well over 2 minutes a pop.

Instead, fans are given two races of 26 laps apiece on the shortened configuration, running around the opening third of the normal layout, before cutting back onto the final corner via an access road that starts near the Dunlop left-hander.


The Players

With this weekend’s being the first of three rounds counting towards the inaugural WTCC Asia Trophy, a host of local-region drivers have signed up for the final Far East flyaway rounds.

No less than five drivers from Macau have signed on across three privateer teams (all entering normally-aspirated Super 2000-specification cars).

Two of the grid’s more-seasoned outfits are fielding extra vehicles for guest drivers, with the works Honda outfit bringing out another Civic WTCC for Takuya Izawa, while the Liqui Moly Engstler team has freighted an extra BMW for regular guest driver Henry Ho.

The Engstler team will be without the services of team owner/driver Franz Engstler, who has been struck down by an as-yet undisclosed illness. His seat will be taken over by Masaki Kano, who has driven for the team in previous seasons.

The grid will also feature two more Japanese drivers: Yukinori Taniguchi makes a one-off return for the Weichers-Sport BMW team, while former open-wheel racer Hiroki Yoshimoto will take over the NIKA Racing Chevrolet seat previously held by Michel Nykjær.

One of Campos Racing’s regular driver, Hugo Valente, won’t be on the grid this weekend, with his SEAT León WTCC to be taken over by as yet-unnamed driver.

Here’s this weekend’s provisional entry list:

No. Driver Entrant Car
1. Robert Huff GBR Münnich Motorsport SEAT SEAT León WTCC 1.6T
3. Gabriele Tarquini ITA Castrol Honda WTCC Team Honda Honda Civic WTCC
5. Norbert Michelisz HUN Zengõ Motorsport Honda Honda Civic WTCC
7. Charles Ka-Ki Ng* HKG Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW BMW 320 TC
8. Mikhail Koslovskiy RUS LADA Sport Lukoil LADA LADA Granta
9. Alex MacDowall* GBR Bamboo Engineering Chevrolet Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T
10. James Thompson GBR LADA Sport Lukoil LADA LADA Granta
12. Yvan Muller FRA RML Chevrolet Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T
14. James Nash* GBR Bamboo Engineering Chevrolet Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T
15. Tom Coronel NED ROAL Motorsport BMW BMW 320 TC
18. Tiago Monteiro POR Castrol Honda WTCC Team Honda Honda Civic WTCC
19. Fernando Monje* ESP Campos Racing SEAT SEAT León WTCC 1.6T
22. Tom Boardman* GBR Special Tune Racing SEAT SEAT León WTCC 1.6T
23. Tom Chilton GBR RML Chevrolet Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T
25. Mehdi Bennani* MOR Proteam Racing BMW BMW 320 TC
26. Stefano D’Aste* ITA PB Racing BMW BMW 320 TC
37. René Münnich* DEU Münnich Motorsport SEAT SEAT León WTCC 1.6T
38. Marc Basseng DEU Münnich Motorsport SEAT SEAT León WTCC 1.6T
45. TBA   Campos Racing SEAT SEAT León WTCC 1.6T
55. Darryl O’Young* HKG ROAL Motorsport BMW BMW 320 TC
60. Filipe de Souza*^ MCU China Dragon Racing Chevrolet Chevrolet Cruze LT
61. Ng Kin Veng*^ MCU China Dragon Racing Chevrolet Chevrolet Cruze LT
66. Jerónimo Badaraco*^ MCU Son Veng Racing Team Chevrolet Chevrolet Cruze LT
67. Hiroki Yoshimoto*^ JPN NIKA Racing Chevrolet Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T
68. Masaki Kano*^ JPN Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW BMW 320 TC
74. Pepe Oriola ESP Tuenti Racing Team Chevrolet Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T
73. Yukinori Taniguchi*^ JPN Wiechers-Sport BMW BMW 320 TC
77. Mak Ka Lok*^ MCU RPM Racing BMW BMW 320si
88. Henry Ho Wai Kun*^ MCU Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW BMW 320si
99. Takuya Izawa^ JPN Honda Racing Team JAS Honda Honda Civic WTCC

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


Facts, Stats & Predictions

Championship favourite Yvan Muller went into the preceding round at Sonoma with an outside chance of wrapping up a fourth Drivers’ Championship title before the field headed across the Pacific to Japan.

That didn’t quite happen, but it will take a miracle to stop the Frenchman from wrapping it all up this weekend. Following Michel Nykjær’s ousting from the NIKA Racing team, that leaves Gabriele Tarquini as Muller’s sole championship rival, but the veteran Italian would have to outscore Muller by over 35 points in order to take the title fight to the following round in Shanghai.

But Tarquini will have a serious task in front of him. With Honda showing terrific pace last time out in California, that has seen the performance ballast increased on all four Honda Civic entries, which will take them to a mere 20kg less than the weigh the Chevrolet Cruze 1.6Ts have to carry.

The remaining turbo runners with BMW, LADA or SEAT badges will run at their respective minimum base weights, which will very much play into the favour of outgoing champion Rob Huff and 2011 race-winner Tom Coronel, who always performs well in Japan.

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 Suzuka!

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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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