Event preview: No time to lift off the throttle as WTCR goes forward to Pau, France

Event preview: No time to lift off the throttle as WTCR goes forward to Pau, France

11.10.2021: WTCR Race of France Circuit Pau-Arnos October 15-17th, 2021 Thereís no time to slow down in the WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup with Circuit Pau-Arnos gearing up to host the action this weekend (October 15-17) as the dust still settles fol


WTCR Race of France
Circuit Pau-Arnos
October 15-17th, 2021



There’s no time to slow down in the WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup with Circuit Pau-Arnos gearing up to host the action this weekend (October 15-17) as the dust still settles following an epic WTCR Race of Czech Republic yesterday.


Néstor Girolami and Norbert Michelisz took the wins at Autodrom Most, the ninth and 10th different drivers to do so in 10 races, while Yann Ehrlacher starts the inaugural WTCR Race of France, his home event, as the Goodyear #FollowTheLeader by topping the provisional order after 10 rounds.



Unlike Autodrom Most where a handful of drivers had previous racing knowledge, Circuit Pau-Arnos is new for the entire grid in competitive conditions, making the sixth event of the season a step into the unknown and a huge level playing field.



The track, the shortest of the season at 3.030 kilometres in length and featuring 13 turns, is the work of legendary French driver Jean-Pierre Beltoise, a one-time Formula One grand prix winner. Located 20 kilometres west of Pau city, the circuit has been upgraded to FIA Grade 3 status and its undulating layout will provide an exciting challenge for the WTCR drivers and their Goodyear-equipped TCR cars.



For the second weekend running, the WTCR joins forces with another top series from Discovery Sports Events. After a double-header with the FIM Endurance World Championship for motorbikes in Czech Republic, the deciding round of the PURE ETCR all-electric touring car series shares top billing with the WTCR at Circuit Pau-Arnos to provide an additional thrilling spectacle for the fans.



And there’s every chance those fans will get to cheer a home winner with four flying Frenchmen on the grid, including Yvan Muller, the most successful driver in FIA World Touring Car history. Home hero Muller forms part of the Cyan Racing Lynk & Co line-up with his nephew Yann Ehrlacher, the current King of WTCR. Ehrlacher is the son of former French professional football Yves Ehrlacher and ex-racer Cathy Muller.



Nathanaël Berthon (Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport) and Jean-Karl Vernay (Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team) will also fly the French tricolore at Circuit Pau-Arnos. Both have won in the WTCR and have ample experience at world level. Vernay had worn the coveted blue jacket as the Goodyear #FollowTheLeader until a tough WTCR Race of Hungary weekend dropped him to third place in the title fight, while Berthon is well known for his qualifying pedigree.



Although France has never hosted a WTCR race before, it was a regular fixture on the FIA World Touring Car Championship calendar up until 2016 with Magny-Cours, Paul Ricard and the Pau street circuit hosting races. Current Zengő Motorsport driver Rob Huff won twice, while Muller notched up a single win during that time. Huff, from Great Britain, is the 2012 World Touring Car champion.



He’s part of the CUPRA-powered WTCR line-up that also includes Spanish PURE ETCR title contenders Mikel Azcona and Jordi Gené, plus promising Hungarian youngster Bence Boldizs, who switched from rallycross to the WTCR for the 2020 season.



Azcona starts WTCR Race of France on the back of claiming a second TCR Europe title following dash to Barcelona last Friday night having taken his first WTCR pole position earlier in the day. Gené, meanwhile, had his very first laps in a racing car at Circuit Pau-Arnos in 1986 as a present from his father for winning a Spanish karting title.



Joining Ehrlacher and Muller in Goodyear-equipped Lynk & Co 03 TCRs are the Cyan Performance Lynk & Co-entered Thed Björk, the 2017 WTCC champion from Sweden, and Uruguay’s Santiago Urrutia, who won Race 2 at WTCR Race of Hungary but struggled in WTCR Race of Czech qualifying and lost ground in the title flight after taking just five points from the two races.



Argentine aces Néstor Girolami and Esteban Guerrieri line-up for ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport and head to France on a high. Girolami took his first WTCR win of 2021 in Czech Republic where a podium double reignited Guerrieri’s title bid. Portugal’s Tiago Monteiro and Attila Tassi, from Hungary, drive identical Honda Civic Type R TCRs for sister team ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport.



Twenty-one-year-old German Luca Engstler, the youngest driver on the grid, partners Vernay at Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team. Hungary’s Norbert Michelisz, who won Race 2 at WTCR Race of Czech Republic, and Italian Gabriele Tarquini head the BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse with identical Hyundai Elantra N TCRs.



Belgian Gilles Magnus, 22, scored his breakthrough WTCR victory in Hungary for Comtoyou Team Audi Sport and tops FIA WTCR Junior Driver Title and WTCR Trophy standings after 10 rounds. Compatriot and team-mate Frédéric Vervisch has also won in a second-generation Audi RS 3 LMS this season. Dutchman Tom Coronel, who is in his 32nd season of racing, partners Berthon at Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport.




WHAT HAPPENED AT WTCR RACE OF CZECH REPUBLIC?



*Girolami and Michelisz become winners nine and 10 of wide-open WTCR season

*Goodyear #FollowTheLeader Ehrlacher extends points advantage

*Guerrieri back in the title fight with double podium despite intense pressure in both races

*Azcona claims P2 in Race 2 after away day in Barcelona earns second TCR Europe title

*Spaniard completes memorable weekend with TAG Heuer Best Lap Trophy

*Muller, Björk and Vernay complete Race 1 top 6 with Muller sixth in Race 2 behind Berthon

*A haul of 5 points drops Urrutia down the title order. He was 2 points off the series’ lead

*Engstler is the top FIA WTCR Junior Driver Title contender in both races

*Coronel and Magnus share the WTCR Trophy wins

*Heartbreak for home hero Fulín from reversed-grid pole as contact puts him out of Race 1

*WTCR shares top billing with FIM Endurance World Championship at Autodrom Most

WTCR 2021 OVERVIEW


Representing 12 countries, the 2021 WTCR line-up features six FIA world title winners − including current King of WTCR Yann Ehrlacher − plus seven drivers 25 or under.



All drivers count on sustainable biofuel from P1 Racing Fuels and tyres from Goodyear. Along with a Balance of Performance and a compensation weight formula, their use helps to create a level playing field. Meanwhile, significant cost-control measures help maintain strong grid numbers and allow privateer teams with limited technical support from manufacturers to fight at the front.



The 2021 season is set to comprise eight weekends with practice, qualifying and two races timetabled at each event. All events enjoy extensive live global broadcasting.



As well as the FIA Drivers’ and Teams’ titles, the FIA WTCR Junior Driver Title is for the best racer 24 or under at the start of 2021 with no WTCC/WTCR experience prior to 2019. Independent racers competing without direct manufacturer funding are eligible for the WTCR Trophy, while the TAG Heuer Best Lap Trophy and TAG Heuer Most Valuable Driver accolade are awarded at each event.



The Goodyear #FollowTheLeader recognises the driver at the head of the title standings after each qualifying session or race. They are presented with the Goodyear #FollowTheLeader blue jacket and carry the Goodyear #FollowTheLeader yellow windscreen strip on their car until such time that they no longer top the points classification. Yann Ehrlacher starts WTCR Race of Czech Republic as the Goodyear #FollowTheLeader, albeit by two-point margin over Santiago Urrutia.




WHAT’S NEW FOR 2021?



*There will be double-headers only in 2021 with two rather than three races at each event

*New cars from Audi (second-generation Audi RS 3 LMS) and Hyundai (Elantra N TCR) join the grid

*P1 Racing Fuels is WTCR’s Official Fuel Supplier with drivers powered by a bespoke fuel featuring 15 per cent renewable components

*Jordi Gené is a WTCR newcomer, while Rob Huff and Frédéric Vervisch are back having missed out on the action in 2020

*Adria, Estoril, Most, Pau-Arnos and Sochi are new venues for 2021, while Czech Republic, France Italy and Russia host the WTCR for the first time


*The Rookie driver award is redefined and renamed as the FIA Junior Driver Title


*WTCR promoter Discovery Sports Events (previously Eurosport Events) holds the FIA’s Three Star Environmental Accreditation following a rigorous auditing process in line with the motorsport world governing body’s Environmental Certification Framework. Click HERE for more information.




DID YOU KNOW?





*The super-tight nature of the WTCR was underlined when 0.7s covered the top 18 drivers in Qualifying Q1 at WTCR Race of Czech Republic.


*Esteban Guerrieri is the WTCR’s most successful driver in terms of race wins with the Honda-powered driver triumphing 10 times for ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport.


*The Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition as the Official Safety Car of the WTCR for a second season. Bruno Correia from Portugal is the Official Safety Car Driver at WTCR Race of France.






 Richard Rodgers, photos WTCR

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/wtcr-event-preview-pau-france---229788.html

11.10.2021 / MaP

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