The FIA World Touring Car Championship had its smallest grid since the introduction of the new TC1 technical regulations, with a pair of 16-car races at last weekend’s round in Hungary.
The current 19-car entry list was trimmed by two before the start of the weekend thanks to Dušan Borković’s decision to quit Proteam Racing in the lead up to the event, while NIKA Racing didn’t event travel to the circuit after it confirmed that Rickard Rydell was still too unwell to race following his diagnosis of thyroiditis.
There was one further withdrawal before Sunday’s two races, with LADA’s James Thompson sidelined after being forced to undergo emergency treatment for a tooth abscess.
Thompson had qualified his LADA Vesta fourteenth-fastest for both races, but his condition worsened after qualifying and he was left with no alternative but to withdraw ahead of the two races.
His recovery downtime means he will almost certainly miss the next round of the championship at the Nürburgring Nordschleife in less than two weeks’ time, before an expected return at the team’s home race at Moscow Raceway on June 6-7.
“I [was] disappointed not to be in the car but was not feeling great in the car and doctors advised it best that I should not drive,” the Englishman said.
The team – which has struggled with a lack of pre-season mileage with its new car and could only manage one finish over the two races between its two remaining cars driven by Rob Huff and Mikhail Kozlovskiy – will complete an in-season test at the Budapest circuit this week.
Thompson’s absence will prompt it to evaluate a number of drivers to fill his seat for the upcoming German round, in addition to potentially replacing the struggling Kozlovskiy, who has run well off the pace of his two teammates. It is expected that the team will opt for a driver with experience on the daunting 21-kilometre circuit.
One confirmed candidate up for consideration is reigning Argentinian Super TC 2000 champion Néstor Girolami, who will have an outing with the team on Tuesday.
The 25-year-old Argentinean was invited by championship organisers Eurosport Events to take part in the test alongside a number of other drivers, while the Russian team continues the development of its new car ahead of what it intends will be a full tilt at championship glory next year.
Girolami, who drives for the Peugeot Argentina in this year’s Super TC 2000 series is, however, unavailable for the Nürburgring Nordschleife round, as it clashes with the next round of the South American series at Termas de Río Hondo.
Image via FIA WTCC Media