Zengő Motorsport will finally make its long-awaited expansion to two cars at this weekend’s FIA World Touring Car Championship round in Portugal.
The Hungarian privateer outfit has completed the fit-out of its #99 Honda Civic WTCC with a compliant suspension package and 2015-specification engine from engine supplier Mugen and will hand the keys over to 18-year-old Dániel Nagy, who will make his series debut on the tough Vila Real street circuit in Saturday’s practice sessions.
Nagy has had barely any touring car running – he had just one TCR International Series drive last year and has not tested his Honda at all to-date – and little is therefore expected of him this weekend.
The youngster will rely heavily on the experience of his compatriot and teammate Ferenz Ficza, who earned his first outright points’ finish and clocked the fastest lap of the race at the previous WTCC meeting in Russia a fortnight ago.
The team had planned to run two cars since the start of the season using a second Honda Civic WTCC leased from the still-absent NIKA Racing squad, but was prevented by the FIA scrutineers from doing so unless it could bring the little-raced car up to compliance.
“I told [series director François] Ribeiro my plan was to run two cars in the championship, and I needed help as we couldn’t run the 2016 spec engine, so we’ve been allowed to run the last year’s spec. The delivery time from Mugen was longer. The first date they gave us was before the Nürburgring, but the parts hadn’t arrived in Mugen in Europe, and they’ve only just arrived in the last week. They’ve put them in the engine, I paid the money and now the engine is here,” a relieved Zoltan Zengő, the team’s owner, said.
“It’s a good combination of Eurosport, JAS Motorsport and Mugen that have helped with the running of the second car, and it’s important for my push of young drivers.”
The chassis’ last hit-out by NIKA Racing – the Swedish privateer outfit with ran Rickard Rydell until the veteran was sidelined by an ongoing illness – was exactly a year ago in Vila Real, when stand-in driver Néstor Girolami crashed the car in qualifying.
“The car isn’t in very good condition,” Zengő added. “The suspension and dampers are destroyed, the gearbox is damaged. They told me it was perfect to go to the track but it’s not true, so we’re having to change the dampers, the gearbox and the driveshaft. So it’s not just the engine [we’re changing] but the new parts which have just arrived this morning, with the engine arriving last night so we maybe able to go on the track [on Saturday].”
Zengő admitted that this weekend’s running will serve a little more than a test session ahead of the season’s final flyaway races in Argentina and Asia, where both cars are expected to race for the remainder of the season.
“This race for Dani is only a test to learn the car, it’s a shakedown as this track is very dangerous. Dani is very fast and has a very soft driving style just like Ficza, so I think the combination of the two is very good.”
Image via FIA WTCC Media