WTCC street fighters aim to master Macau

WTCC street fighters aim to master Macau

11.11.2017: FIA WTCC JVCKENWOOD Race of Macau Suncity Group Macau Guia Race FIA World Touring Car Championship, Rounds 17 and 18 of 20 16-19 November 2017

FIA WTCC JVCKENWOOD Race of Macau
Suncity Group Macau Guia Race
FIA World Touring Car Championship, Rounds 17 and 18 of 20
16-19 November 2017



*Legendary Guia Race returns to FIA World Touring Car Championship

*Title battle wide open as record-equalling entry prepares for action

*Ma Qing Hua back in the WTCC for Sébastien Loeb Racing




One of the most challenging race tracks on the planet awaits drivers from the FIA World Touring Car Championship when the wide-open title battle resumes on the streets of Macau from 16-19 November.



 But as well as offering vital points, JVCKENWOOD WTCC Race of Macau forms the legendary Suncity Group Macau Guia Race, run for the first time in 1972 and won a record eight times by 2012 WTCC champion Rob Huff.



Back on the WTCC roster for the first time since 2014, the 6.120-kilometre Circuito da Guia challenges and thrills in equal measure. Blending twisty turns and narrow blasts with long, wideopen straights and sweeping corners, the demanding layout also contains a plethora of gradient and surface changes.



“There are circuits as challenging but there aren’t any as unforgiving as Macau,” said Huff, who made his Macau Guia Race debut in 2005. “Those who push the boundaries on every corner can get rewarded but it can also be a disaster. However, I’m massively excited to be going back, it’s a magical place and to have eight victories is something special. I want to build on that.”



While Huff has dropped out of the overall title fight in his ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Citroën, factory Honda star Norbert Michelisz is in the thick of the battle, 16.5 points behind Polestar Cyan Racing’s Thed Björk, a Macau rookie.



“I won my first WTCC race in Macau in 2010 so I have some special memories,” said Hungarian Michelisz, the winner of the last round in Japan. “It’s a really challenging circuit, a bit like Nürburgring Nordschleife and driving on circuits like this is unique and something a racing driver looks for. The closer the race gets the more excited I get.”



Despite his absence of Macau knowledge, Sweden’s world championship leader Björk is unfazed by what’s in store when the WTCC returns to the Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China next week. “New tracks have been going quite well for me and my progress was quite fast in learning tracks. I hope I can also learn Macau fast enough.”



Björk’s Volvo-driving team-mate Nicky Catsburg can count on some Macau knowledge having contested the FIA GT World Cup in 2016. The Dutchman is 2.5 points behind Michelisz in the title standings.



“It was actually quite scary going to Macau for the first time. Mandarin corner is so fast, really exciting and you have to be comfortable being close to the walls. I don’t feel I really know Macau because we had a lot of red flags last year but maybe I have an advantage over my Polestar Cyan Racing team-mates.”




Like Catsburg, Esteban Guerrieri has one Macau visit under his belt from the Formula 3 Grand Prix in 2007 when he took on current Formula 1 drivers Brendan Hartley, Nico Hülkenberg and Romain Grosjean.



With Tiago Monteiro, the erstwhile title leader, still recovering from injuries sustained in a high-speed testing crash in September, Honda has once again called up Guerrieri as Monteiro’s stand-in after the Argentine impressed with a podium in Japan last time out when he pulled off the save of the season following an on-track clash with Björk. (Click here to watch the action).



 “Macau is such an intense single lap for concentration,” said Guerrieri. “You have to go between walls on full power at 100 per cent, you give everything and even more to get the maximum out of the car. I like street courses and Macau is top of the street courses.”



It’s not just the FIA World Touring Car Championship for Drivers that’s still up for grabs: the WTCC Trophy for independent racers is a three-way fight between Mehdi Bennani, Tom Chilton and Huff, while Volvo Polestar and Honda are bidding to win the FIA World Touring Car Championship for Manufacturers.



After 16 races, Volvo Polestar is on top by 46.5 points with a maximum of 117 available in Macau.




WEEKEND HIGHLIGHTS



*WTCC JVCKENWOOD Race of Macau, the Suncity Group Macau Guia Race, will run to a new format with the Opening Race and Main Race taking place on separate days.


*The timetable adjustment will result in a more advantageous international broadcast slot for the Opening Race (due to begin at 14h10 local time, 07h10 CET).


*In order to give teams maximum opportunity to repair and ready their cars for Sunday’s Main Race, which is scheduled from 10h40 local time (03h40 CET), OSCARO Repair Time is unrestricted (it’s normally 20 minutes only with five of those minutes for refuelling).


*Nineteen-car entry is highest of 2017 and equals the previous TC1 record set in Japan last season.


*Double Guia Race winner Emanuele Pirro will be in attendance in his capacity as FIA WTCC driving advisor.




WHAT’S NEW FOR 2017


*Revamped and compact calendar (10 events only to reduce costs) features return to iconic venues Monza and Macau, a new track in China, plus a mid-July date for WTCC Race of Argentina.


*More points are on offer to the top 10 in the Main Race as follows: 1=30 points; 2=23; 3=19; 4=16; 5=13; 6=10; 7=7; 8=4; 9=2; 10=1).


*WTCC MAC3, the Tour de France-inspired time trial, continues with two more points for winning.


*FIA World Rallycross-style ‘joker’ lap got its world premiere at WTCC Race of Portugal in late June.


*Use of 360-degree camera to give viewer the impression they are in-car with the driver.




Richard Rodgers, photo FIA WTCC

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/wtcc-street-fighters-master-macau---170105.html

11.11.2017 / MaP

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