The FIA World Touring Car Championship makes its long-awaited return to the high-speed Autodromo Nazionale Monza for the 2017 season’s second round.

The Circuit

Autodromo Nazionale Monza

Autodromo Nazionale Monza
Location Monza, Italy Circuit Length 5.793 km / 3.560 mi
Opened 1922 First WTCC Event 1987
Direction Clockwise Lap Record 1:59.000 – Rob Huff (2012)

Monza – known as Italy’s ‘Temple of Speed’ – is always one of the most anticipated visits on the WTCC calendar, along with one of its most traditional.

The high-speed circuit has played host to the championship’ inaugural race when the series was re-formed in 2005, and remained on the calendar every year until 2013, with the exception of 2009 when the Race of Italy occurred at the Imola circuit.

The event proved widely popular with fans, who flocked to the circuit to support local heroes Gabriele Tarquini and Stefano D’Aste.

The event, however, was dropped in 2014 as the series explored more emerging markets in eastern Europe, but has made a popular return on the 2017 schedule.

The major manufacturers have all enjoyed success at this circuit, which will reward a car with a good aerodynamic profile, a strong engine and a set-up that doesn’t punish its tyres too much. Quite how the field will fare this time around remains to be seen, as this will be the WTCC’s first competitive hit-out at Monza under its current TC1 regulations. One thing is for certain: the race lap record of 1:59.000 will be smashed.

The Event

2017 FIA World Touring Car Championship – Oscaro Race of Italy
Event Dates 28-30 April 2016 Scrutineering Fri 14:30-18:30
Free Practice Session 1 Sat 09:00-09:45 Free Practice Session 2 Sat 12:00-12:45
Qualifying Session 1 Sat 14:10-14:30 Qualifying Session 2 Sat 14:35-14:45
Qualifying Session 3 Sat 14:50-15:00 MAC3 Sat 15:20-15:40
Opening Race (9 laps) Sun 12:15-12:40 Main Race (11 laps) Sun 14:15-14:45
Oscaro Race of Italy Weather Forecast
Friday Sunny 6°C – 17°C Saturday Sunny 7°C – 18°C Sunday Partly Cloudy 10°C – 19°C

Session times quoted in Central European Summer Time (UTC/GMT + 2:00)

The Form Guide

What is widely expected to be the most closely-fought WTCC season in its current era brought plenty of drama a fortnight ago on the tight Marrakech street circuit, with Esteban Guerrieri and Tiago Monteiro sharing honours over the weekend’s two races.

The form guide could be given a major shake-up around the sweeping curves and long straights of Monza, home of the Italian Grand Prix, which has historically provided fans with thrilling slipstreaming battles.

Thirty years ago, the venue played host to the inaugural World Touring Car Championship race, and was again the season-opener when the current-era WTCC was reborn in 2005.

It will mark the first time that the current TC1-specification cars have raced in anger here, and with the event absent from the series’ calender for the previous three years it’s also tricky to get a sense of the pecking order this weekend.

The WTCC’s sole open pre-season test was conducted here, where Münnich Motorsport’s Rob Huff dominated proceedings in his first outing behind the wheel of the team’s new Citroën C-Elysée. After a difficult opening weekend in Morocco, the Englishman will be keen to prove that his testing pace was no flash in the pan.

Despite the extra 50 kilograms of performance ballast the Citroëns are carrying for the opening three rounds of the season, the superb aerodynamics and horsepower of the French cars could still give them the edge this weekend. An unknown factor will be the three Polestar Cyan Racing Volvos, which will have their first race at the event and have proven to be competitive at other high-speed venues last year.

While Honda’s Tiago Monteiro leads the Drivers’ Championship standings, the Japanese carmaker might not find itself among the frontrunners this weekend. Being the only hatchback design in the field, its profile is not as well suited to Monza’s long straights compared to the saloon models fielded by rival outfits.

This weekend will mark the WTCC debut of American touring car driver Kevin Gleason, who will drive RC Motorsport’s second LADA Vesta entry as the new outfit expands to a two-car effort this weekend. His rookie teammate Yann Ehrlacher proved surprisingly quick during the pre-season test at Monza earlier this year, and the privateer pair could well punch above their weight this weekend.

Images via FIA WTCC Media

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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.