The penultimate round of the 2013 FIA World Touring Car Championship season takes place this weekend, with the series making its second visit to the Shanghai International Circuit.
While the battle for outright championship honours is now over, there’s still plenty to focus on ahead of Sunday’s two races. Let’s take a look at our event preview…
|2013 WORLD TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP RACE OF CHINA|
|Date:||1-3 November 2013|
|Venue:||Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China|
|Race Lap Record:||1:55.233, Alain Menu (Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T) – 2012|
|Event Schedule:||Open Test Session||Fri 12:25-12:55|
|Free Practice Session 1||Sat 08:00-08:30|
|Free Practice Session 2||Sat 11:10-11:40|
|Qualifying Session 1||Sat 14:10-14:30|
|Qualifying Session 2||Sat 14:35-14:45|
|Sunday Warm-Up||Sun 08:50-09:05|
|Race 1 (13 laps, 60km)||Sun 15:35-16:05|
|Race 2 (13 laps, 60km)||Sun 16:35-17:05|
|Past Winners:||Alain Menu (RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T)||2012 (Race 1)|
|Rob Huff (RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T)||2012 (Race 2)|
|Alain Menu (Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T)||2011 (Race 1)*|
|Yvan Muller (Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T)||2011 (Race 2)*|
* Denotes event held at Tianma Circuit, Shanghai
To have the World Touring Car Championship expand its reach into China was a long-term goal of series promoter Marcello Lotti, a feat he proudly ticked off in 2011 when the field made its first appearance there in 2011 at the Tianma Circuit in Shanghai.
On what was effectively little more than an oversized karting circuit, the first event – while well-attended didn’t produce much in the way of great racing, and so the series found a new home at the Shanghai International Circuit, albeit racing on the shortened ‘touring car’ layout.
Being another Hermann Tilke concept, the track features his trademark use of wide expanses, ultra-modern facilities, and the usual mix of tight corners, the occasional quick directional changes and a long straight fit for overtaking.
Built on what is now a drained swamp, the entire circuit is actually built on some 40,000 polystyrene piles as its foundation.
While the circuit is not renowned for providing fans with edge-of-their-seat Grand Prix races, as a touring car venue its layout produces plenty of wheel-to-wheel racing, certainly if last year’s two races were anything to go by.
The track’s 1.3-kilometre back straight presents a fierce test for engine and turbo power, not to mention good braking as the drivers try an overtaking move on each other.
One of the circuit’s trickiest sections is its first corner complex where the track doubles back on itself in an ever-tightening right-hander that feeds into a sudden double-apex left-hander. Opening-lap contact is not uncommon through this corner as cars jostle for position.
A bumper 31-car field – the largest of the season to-date until the curtain-closing round in Macau – will tackle the Shanghai International Circuit this weekend.
A fifth manufacturer will enter the field, with Volvo Polestar Racing making a one-off return to the championship with its delightful C30 WTCC racer, which will be piloted by this year’s newly-crowned Scandinavian Touring Car Champion, Thed Björk.
He and his compatriot Rickard Rydell will be proudly flying the Swedish flag this weekend. The former works SEAT driver is also having a one-off outing behind the wheel of NIKA Racing’s Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T, marking his first WTCC appearance since the 2012 season-opener at Monza.
The only other changes are Yukinori Taniguchi’s switch from Weichers-Sport (due to full-time driver Fredy Barth’s return after missing the previous round at Suzuka) to Campos Racing.
Here’s this weekend’s provisional entry list:
|1.||Robert Huff||Münnich Motorsport||SEAT León WTCC 1.6T|
|3.||Gabriele Tarquini||Castrol Honda WTCC Team||Honda Civic WTCC|
|5.||Norbert Michelisz||Zengõ Motorsport||Honda Civic WTCC|
|6.||Franz Engstler*||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||BMW 320 TC|
|7.||Charles Ka-Ki Ng*||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||BMW 320 TC|
|8.||Mikhail Koslovskiy||LADA Sport Lukoil||LADA Granta|
|9.||Alex MacDowall*||Bamboo Engineering||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T|
|10.||James Thompson||LADA Sport Lukoil||LADA Granta|
|12.||Yvan Muller||RML||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T|
|14.||James Nash*||Bamboo Engineering||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T|
|15.||Tom Coronel||ROAL Motorsport||BMW 320 TC|
|18.||Tiago Monteiro||Castrol Honda WTCC Team||Honda Civic WTCC|
|19.||Fernando Monje*||Campos Racing||SEAT León WTCC 1.6T|
|20.||Hugo Valente*||Campos Racing||SEAT León WTCC 1.6T|
|22.||Tom Boardman*||Special Tune Racing||SEAT León WTCC 1.6T|
|23.||Tom Chilton||RML||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T|
|25.||Mehdi Bennani*||Proteam Racing||BMW 320 TC|
|26.||Stefano D’Aste*||PB Racing||BMW 320 TC|
|33.||Yukinori Taniguchi*^||Campos Racing||SEAT León WTCC 1.6T|
|37.||René Münnich*||Münnich Motorsport||SEAT León WTCC 1.6T|
|38.||Marc Basseng||Münnich Motorsport||SEAT León WTCC 1.6T|
|38.||Thed Björk˚||Volvo Polestar Racing||Volvo C30 1.6T ‘Drive’|
|55.||Darryl O’Young*||ROAL Motorsport||BMW 320 TC|
|60.||Filipe de Souza*^||China Dragon Racing||Chevrolet Cruze LT|
|61.||Ng Kin Veng*^||China Dragon Racing||Chevrolet Cruze LT|
|66.||Jerónimo Badaraco*^||Son Veng Racing Team||Chevrolet Cruze LT|
|69.||Rickard Rydell||NIKA Racing||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T|
|73.||Fredy Barth*||Wiechers-Sport||BMW 320 TC|
|74.||Pepe Oriola||Tuenti Racing Team||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T|
|77.||Mak Ka Lok*^||RPM Racing||BMW 320si|
|88.||Henry Ho Wai Kun*^||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||BMW 320si|
* Denotes Yokohama Independent Trophy competitor.
^ Denotes EuroSport Asia Trophy competitor
˚ Denotes ineligible to score championship points
Entry list is subject to final FIA confirmation.
Facts, Stats & Predictions
With Yvan Muller having wrapped up a fourth WTCC crown last time out at Suzuka, focus will now shift to who can claim runner-up honours this weekend.
Honda’s Gabriele Tarquini currently sits a comfortable 28 points clear of Muller’s teammate Tom Chilton, who is just two points ahead of James Nash in the Bamboo Engineering Chevrolet.
One challenge Tarquini will face is that – courtesy of the Civic WTCC’s super pace over the previous two rounds – he, teammate Tiago Monteiro and the Zengõ Motorsport Honda of Norbert Michelisz will be running at the maximum compensation weight this weekend.
The Independent Trophy Championship is unlikely to be wrapped up this weekend, although series leader Nash will be looking to extend his 32-point lead over teammate Alex MacDowall, while Mehdi Bennani is still within mathematical contention of stealing the title for himself.
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 Shanghai!