The penultimate leg of the FIA World Touring Car Cup season takes place this weekend on the iconic streets of Macau, where the world’s best front-wheel-drive touring car racers will share double-billing with the famous Formula 3 Grand Prix.
|Circuito da Guia|
|Location||Macau, Macau SAR||Circuit Length||6.120 km / 3.803 mi|
|Opened||1954||First WTCR Event||2018 (on Grand Prix layout)|
|Direction||Clockwise||Race Lap Record||2:31.038 – Rob Huff (2018)|
Macau’s 6.120-kilometre Circuito da Guia blends twisty turns and narrow blasts with long, wide-open straights and sweeping corners – plus gradient changes – to create one of the most challenging and spectacular street circuits on the planet.
Touring car racing has been held in this Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China for more than half a century, with the famous Guia Race first run in 1972.
The 2019 Event
|2019 FIA WTCR presented by Oscaro – Guia Race of Macau|
|Event Dates||14-17 November 2019||Free Practice Session 1||Thu 09:00-09:45|
|Free Practice Session 2||Thu 13:40-14:10||Race 1 Qualifying||Fri 08:50-09:30|
|Race 2 & 3 Qualifying||Fri 13:35-14:50||Race 1 (8 laps)||Sat 14:55-15:20|
|Race 2 (8 laps)||Sun 08:45-09:10||Race 3 (11 laps)||Sun 11:25-11:55|
Session times quoted in China Standard Time (UTC/GMT + 8:00)
Rewind to 2018
While Esteban Guerrieri and Frédéric Vervisch joined Jean-Karl Vernay as WTCR Race of Macau winners, it was Gabriele Tarquini who had the biggest cause for celebration by claiming the inaugural FIA World Touring Car Cup title by a mere three points.
Piloting his Hyundai i30 N TCR for BRC Racing Team, Tarquini had been firmly in the title fight since the start of the season. Despite a troubled Second Qualifying session that saw him line up outside the top 10 for weekend’s deciding races, the Italian did just enough with a P10 finish in Race 3 to hand him the title spoils ahead of Yvan Muller.
Four-time world champion Muller gave his all to snatch the crown from Tarquini’s grasp but his brace of podium finishes wasn’t quite enough to claim the top prize although his self-run, Hyundai-powered YMR squad, which was formed on the eve of the season, beat BRC to the Teams’ Championship title thanks to his and Thed Björk’s collective efforts.
Nine-time Guia Race winner Rob Huff claimed pole position in both qualifying sessions in his Sébastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI but the King of Macau had to settle for third and second.
Guerrieri, meanwhile, soaked up immense pressure from Huff to win Race 3, his second triumph of the season following his success at the Nürburgring Nordschleife earlier in the year. The Honda-powered Münnich Motorsport driver, headed Huff and Norbert Michelisz with Muller fourth, Yann Ehrlacher fifth and Cupra-mounted Pepe Oriola completing the top six for Campos Racing.
Vervisch (Audi Sport Team Comtoyou) became the fifteenth different race-winner of the 2019 season, pulling off a great pass to demote reversed-grid pole-sitter Timo Scheider to claim the Race 2 victory, taking the lead around the outside at Mandarin. Scheider took second with Muller third and Kevin Ceccon fourth in his Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta.
The Form Guide
Esteban Guerrieri (288 points) and Norbert Michelisz (282) are separated at the top of the Drivers’ Championship standings by just six points after the duo’s see-sawing fortunes at the preceding Race of Japan. The season-long rivals have won seven races between them in 2019, and both have tasted victory on the streets of Macau in previous years.
Mathematically, the top-fifteen drivers in the championship standings are still in contention for the Drivers’ Championship title, although in reality only the top-five runners – extending to Lynk & Co teammates Thed Björk (248) and Yvan Muller (240), and PWR Racing Cupra rookie Mikel Azcona (198) – are genuine prospects.
For Björk and Muller, they have the added handicap of a Lynk & Co car that is least suited to the Macau layout. Its wide footprint, high drag and the heaviest base weight are all going to be problematic through the flat-out opening sector that calls for straight-line speed and the twistier mountain sector which relies on slow-speed traction. The pair have already admitted that a consistent points’ haul and error-free weekend will be critical to remain in the championship hunt going into the final round at Sepang.
While very much the outsider, Azcona has undoubtedly been the star performer of the 2019 season. The Spanish youngster has been on-the-pace in his rookie season, performing well on a number of circuits that he has never raced out. With a sparkling win earlier in the year at Vila Real (which bears a number of similarities to Macau), he could be a dark horse this weekend and will be ably assisted by Robert Dahlgren who has been helicoptered into the second PWR seat this weekend.
Last but by no means least, the other man to watch will be Rob Huff. The ‘King of Macau’ will be looking to extend his record-breaking success at the Guia Race and is targeting an unprecedented tenth win on the street circuit. The British veteran claimed his first podium finish of the season last time out at Suzuka and always seems to find an extra level of performance here.
Compensation Weight Adjustments
The Lynk & Co 03 TCR cars run by Cyan Racing will be at a further disadvantage on the streets of Macau following the latest compensation weight adjustments. The blue cars will carry an additional 10 kilograms of ballast, tapping out at the maximum 60kg after being calculated as the fastest car model over the preceding three rounds.
Conversely, the Hyundai, Honda, Cupra, Alfa Romeo and Audi models have all had 10kg of compensation weight removed.
The Volkswagen Golf GTI TCRs run by Sébastien Loeb Racing will remain with the 40kg of compensation weight they carried at the previous round at Suzuka.
|2019 FIA WTCR Guia Race of Macau – Balance of Performance|
|Manufacturer – Model||Power||Ride Ht||Comp Wt||BoP Wt||Total Weight|
|Lynk & Co 03 TCR||97.5%||80mm||60kg +10||40kg||1,365kg|
|Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR||100.0%||80mm||50kg -10||20kg||1,335kg|
|Hyundai i30 N TCR||97.5%||90mm||50kg -10||20kg||1,335kg|
|Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR||100.0%||70mm||40kg +0||-40kg||1,265kg|
|Cupra León TCR||100.0%||70mm||30kg -10||-40kg||1,255kg|
|Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce||100.0%||80mm||30kg -10||-40kg||1,255kg|
|Audi RS 3 LMS||100.0%||70mm||10kg -10||-30kg||1,245kg|
Images via FIA WTCR