Barely a week after an enthralling round at one of the world’s toughest circuits, the FIA World Touring Car Cup field will grid up once again to contest the 2018 season’s fourth round, the Race of Netherlands at the historic Zandvoort circuit.
|Circuit Park Zandvoort|
|Location||Zandvoort, Netherlands||Circuit Length||4.307 km / 2.676 mi|
|Opened||1948||First WTCR Event||2018|
|Direction||Clockwise||TCR Lap Record||1:45.925 – Giacomo Altoè (VW Golf)|
The most northerly venue on the 2018 calendar, the inclusion of Zandvoort on the WTCR roster for the Jumbo Racedagen featuring Max Verstappen, brings world touring racing back to The Netherlands for the first time since 2007.
The timing of the race couldn’t be more appropriate with 2018 marking the circuit’s 70th anniversary. Once home to the Dutch Formula 1 Grand Prix almost every year between 1958-1985, Zandvoort’s motorsport roots go back to 1939 when a street race was organised in the seaside town. It was the catalyst needed for the mayor to invest in a permanent track, construction of which began following World War II.
An often mistaken claim is that the circuit’s design is credited to John Hugenholtz, but its layout should in fact be credited to former Bentley racer Sammy Davis. A quick and flowing circuit with a variety of corners, it proved popular with the Formula 1 field and was a mainstay on the calendar until 1985.
With running costs blowing out, officials were forced to sell of part of the land and used the funds to design a shorter and slower layout which later began to host the prestigious end-of-year Marlboro F3 Masters event. Eventually the funding situation improved to allow circuit owners to lengthen the track and reclaim some of the original circuit’s iconic corners which had laid dormant for almost twenty years.
The longer configuration drew more major championships to the circuit, including the A1 GP series, DTM, FIA GT and Blancpain GT championships. There are rumours that the Dutch Grand Prix could make a comeback given Max Verstappen’s enormous popularity.
The 2018 Event
|2018 FIA WTCR presented by Oscaro – Race of Netherlands|
|Event Dates||19-21 May 2018||Free Practice Session 1||Sat 11:50-12:20|
|Free Practice Session 2||Sat 15:00-15:30||First Qualifying||Sun 08:30-09:00|
|Race 10 (12 laps)||Sat 16:20-16:50||Second Qualifying Session 1||Mon 08:30-08:50|
|Second Qualifying Session 2||Mon 08:55-09:05||Second Qualifying Session 3||Mon 09:10-09:20|
|Race 11 (12 laps)||Mon 12:15-12:45||Race 12 (15 laps)||Mon 16:35-17:10|
|2018 FIA WTCR presented by Oscaro – Zandvoort Weather Forecast|
|Saturday||9°C – 14°C||Sunday||7°C – 22°C||Monday||11°C – 25°C|
Session times quoted in Central European Summer Time (UTC/GMT + 2:00)
Compensation Weights & Balance of Performance Adjustments
With the Hyundai’s having won more than half of the races to-date this year, the dominance of the i30 N TCR will be threatened with a 2.5% power reduction and a ride height increase in the latest Balance of Performance (BoP) adjustments.
With the exception of the Hyundais and Hondas, all other manufacturer models will have their BoP weights reduced by at least 10 kilograms in the most significant shake-up of the rolling calculations designed to keep the field as close as possible.
The Form Guide
The fourth round of the season sees Yvan Muller unexpectedly – by his own admission at least – on top of the Drivers’ Championship standings. The French veteran holds a 19-point advantage over early championship leader Gabriele Tarquini, who failed to score a point after twice crashing out at the preceding Race of Germany.
While Tarquini’s weekend was uncharacteristically untidy, his former teammate and fellow Hyundai runner Muller was a model of consistency to claim one win and another podium. With Muller winning Race 1 and teammate Thed Björk the victor in Race 3 (on top of two pole positions), the Yvan Muller Racing team now sits on top of the Teams’ Championship standings as well.
The top three in the championship aside, there will be a number of other drivers to look out for this weekend.
Chief among them is local driver and crowd favourite Tom Coronel. The hugely popular, hugely charismatic Dutchman will be hoping for a big haul of points at his home race having endured a challenging start to his WTCR campaign in his DHL-backed Honda. The veteran will be cheered on alongside two local wildcard drivers, with Michael Verhagen and Prince Bernhard van Oranje-Nassau joining the field in a pair of Audi RS3 LMS cars entered by Bas Koeten Racing.
Keep an eye out for Frédéric Vervisch and Benjamin Lessennes. The two Belgian youngsters are both familiar with Zandvoort and showing improved pace in their rookie seasons on the international stage.
Images via FIA WTCR