Hungarian privateer outfit Zengö Motorsport will not contest this weekend’s World Touring Car Championship season-opener at Paul Ricard at the instruction of engine provider Mugen.
The team had expanded to a two-car entry for the 2016 season following the departure of star driver Norbert Michelisz to a factory Honda drive, signing on teenage racers Ferenc Ficza and Dániel Nagy to race full-time in a pair of Honda Civic WTCCs. The team bought a second Civic from Swedish privateer outfit NIKA Racing – which has elected to switch to a Chevrolet Cruze TC1 – to use in 2016.
The problem stems from the fact that the team’s entry was confirmed too late in the pre-season to receive certified engines from Mugen in time for this weekend’s pair of races in France.
Both Ficza and Nagy were therefore forced to miss out on vital running in Friday’s open test session while negotiations continued between the team, Mugen and parent company to resolve the impasse.
The ex-NIKA Racing Honda hasn’t been raced since July 2015, having been housed at its at the team’s base in Katrineholm, Sweden, since it opted with withdraw from the remainder of the season.
“Mugen don’t want to take the risk to run an engine on which they’ve had no control,” explained Honda motorsport manager William de Braekeleer. “Mugen wants to provide good quality engines, so they can’t afford to take the risk.”
With one of the available engines ruled out, the second car – assigned to Nagy – didn’t even have an engine to go running. The lateness of the team’s entry confirmation meant that it was behind schedule in ordering the latest specification customer engine for his car.
“All the private teams were informed at the end of last year that it was Mugen who was going to lease the engine directly to the team and ensure trackside support,” added de Braekeleer.
“And they gave them a deadline to order by in order to prepare the engine. The problem is no team responded, you can’t blame Zengö for getting their sponsors answer very late, but you also can’t blame Mugen, who can’t start to build parts for an engine which hasn’t been ordered.”
Honda eventually agreed to loan a 2016-spec engine to Zengö so Ficza could take part in Saturday’s practice sessions, with all parties later electing to withdraw from further participation for the remainder of the weekend.
The team confirmed it hopes to have at least one car running with a Mugen-prepared engine at the next round of the championship at the Slovakia Ring on 16-17 April.
Image via FIA WTCC Media
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