Chevrolet aim to consolidate lead at fast Salzburgring
14.05.2012: Fast Salzburgring track promises exciting racing in first-ever WTCC event
The WTCC continues its successful Central European tour at the Salzburgring
Fast Salzburgring track promises exciting racing in first-ever WTCC event
The WTCC continues its successful Central European tour at the Salzburgring in Austria this weekend, with Chevrolet aiming to consolidate its lead at the helm of both Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ championships.
Huge crowds are expected for what will be the first-ever WTCC event to be held in the Alpine country, which boasts a rich motorsport tradition. Austrian fans are motorsport connoisseurs, with their country producing great champions such as Jochen Rindt (F1 World Champion, 24 Hours of Le Mans), Niki Lauda (three-time F1 World Champion) and Gerhard Berger (F1).
The 4.225 km Salzburgring, located in a narrow valley close to the beautiful baroque town of Salzburg, was established in 1968 as a motorbike track. Its design is relatively straightforward, composed of two long straights connected by a sweeping corner at the bottom and a narrower corner at the top. The track belies the Austrian Waltz tradition as power and speed play a great role in this circuit.
While the Salzburgring has never played host to the WTCC before, it was the venue of the European Touring Car Cup (ETCC) finale in 2008 and 2011, the former edition won by Michel Nykjær for the Chevrolet Motorsport Denmark team.
Having won all but two of the 10 races held so far and relying on the performance and reliability of the 1.6 turbo engine, the Cruzes head to Austria with confidence and aim to consolidate their advantage in both championships.
Yvan Muller: “I must be one of the few WTCC drivers who has raced at Salzburgring in the past. It was in 1997 when I was participating in the German Touring Car Championship, but that was many years ago and it doesn’t really represent any advantage.
What I remember is a very fast track with no slow corners; it is a pleasant circuit to race on, but also demanding. The back uphill section has two long right corners that pose enormous stress on the front left tire. “Regarding the championship, I am happy with the way things are going and very excited about going to a new circuit.”
Alain Menu: “I visited Salzburgring for the first time last Monday after the Budapest race. I must say I was enchanted. The place is absolutely lovely, in the middle of a forest up in the mountains. It is a bucolic environment where you don’t expect to find a race track. For a mountain lover like me, it’s perfect.
“The circuit looks very fast, especially the double right-hander that ends in a hairpin. It’s definitely a power track, but I also think that towing will be crucial in such a fast track, especially in qualifying.”
Rob Huff: “I’m anxious to go to the Salzburgring. I love discovering new circuits and this one, with its long fast corners, is exactly the type of track I prefer. After Budapest, I had the opportunity to discover another aspect of motor racing – rallying. I was invited to drive the Tour de Corse Rally, an IRC series event. I participated in some stages and an open stage in the course car. It was amazing, especially in the narrow and twisty roads of Corsica in such breathtaking natural scenery.
“I always loved rallying and my father used to take me to rallies in the UK when I was a child. I admire rally drivers for what they are able to do in a car on gravel and grass. It’s exactly the opposite of what is done in the WTCC. I wouldn’t mind trying one day. As a driver, I’m quite happy driving just about anything!”
Ron Hartvelt: “The cars went back to the RML factory in the UK after Budapest and it’s nice to have them after four rounds traveling from circuit to circuit. It is a tight turn-around though, but there are no major issues as the cars are basically unscathed. We will shake-down at Sywell and then start another long journey.
Salzburgring is a new circuit for the WTCC, so we don’t have direct data to work with. However, we carried out simulations based on ETCC data. We know we’ll have a real high-speed track and we should be competitive there. We will also be on an equal footing with the competition in terms of weight.”
Eric Nève: “We have another short journey for the WTCC as we go from Hungary to Austria. Salzburgring is a spectacular track and I saw one of the most exciting touring car races I have ever seen there.
It was the ETCC finale in 2008 when Michel Nykjær won the title after a superb battle. The entire race was a slip-stream battle with constant overtaking. I think we are in for some exciting racing this weekend.”
SALBURGRING ROUND SCHEDULE (Local time = CET)
Saturday, 19 May 2012
09:00-09:30 Free Practice 1 11:45-12:15 Free Practice 2 14:45-15:05 Qualifying 1 15:10-15:20 Qualifying 2
Sunday, 20 May 2012
08:45-09:00 Warm up 13:20-13:45 Race 1 (12 laps = 50,700 kms) (Rolling start) 14:35-15:00 Race 2 (12 laps = 50,700 kms) (Standing start)
SALZBURGRING WTCC ON TV
In Europe, qualifying, warm up and the races are be broadcasted live on Eurosport International.
The Salzburgring will also host the fifth and sixth rounds of the FIA European Touring Car Cup; a field of 26 cars will race in Austria split over the series’ four categories.
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