The ‘joker’ lap is back at WRC Race of Portugal

The ‘joker’ lap is back at WRC Race of Portugal

28.06.2019: FIA WTCR Race of Portugal WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO 2019 Rounds 16, 17and 18 of 30, Vila Real, 5-7 July The ‘joker’ lap brought an untried concept to world championship motor racing when it was used at WTCC Race of Po

FIA WTCR Race of Portugal
WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO 2019
Rounds 16, 17and 18 of 30, Vila Real, 5-7 July




The ‘joker’ lap brought an untried concept to world championship motor racing when it was used at WTCC Race of Portugal in 2017. Designed to further spice up the action on a circuit where overtaking isn’t always possible, the ‘joker’ lap concept requires the WTCR / OSCARO drivers to take an alternative route in all three races, although not before the third lap of any race.



Vila Real’s ‘joker’ lap route is located at the final corner, Turn 26, with the full approval of the FIA Safety Department and local authorities.  While the right/left flick through a roundabout will still be used in normal racing conditions, the alternative route to the left side will effectively take drivers the other way onto the roundabout and through a tighter left/right sequence before they re-join the start/finish straight. The alternative route is expected to take an additional two seconds, which will hand pursuing drivers ample opportunity to overtake.




Inspired by the FIA World Rallycross Championship, the ‘joker’ lap has brought an extra dimension to racing on Vila Real’s streets. As well as providing additional overtaking opportunities – Tiago Monteiro’s ‘joker’ lap strategy helped him to a podium double in 2017 – it will create a unique tactical battle between the teamsmeaning its impact on the races is not to be missed.




To make it visible and understandable on television, the ‘joker’ lap location will be highlighted by special graphics, which will also give viewers instant notification when the lap has been taken. Fans following live timing through the WTCR app will also be able to determine the ‘joker’ status of each driver.





… and there’s a joker master in the pack!



He might be new to Vila Real and only five events into his WTCR / OSCARO career but SLR Volkswagen’s Johan Kristoffersson is a master when it comes to taking the ‘joker’ lap. The Swede is a double FIA World Rallycross champion and used to do ‘joker’ laps for a living as they are mandatory in all WRX events.




How will your experience help you?



“You don’t have the same confidence going in there because the evolution of this section is different to the rest of the track. The grip, the braking point will be different. But compared to rallycross where you only have four laps or so to practice it, in Vila Real there will be plenty of time in Free Practice, so it’s important not to over-analyse it.”






As a concept are you a fan?


“I really like it, especially on a street circuit where it can really make a difference. If you mess up your start or whatever you can use the ‘joker’ as an overtaking tool. But as well as using it as an attack tool, you can use it as a defending tool. It just depends what your pace is.”




What’s your decision-making process to taking the ‘joker’ lap?



“There are so many different solutions. I have experience from the rallycross but in racing you have more tyre degradation so maybe it’s better to take it early. Also, if you are stuck in traffic you have to consider where you will come out, if you will be in free air. It’s a bit like a pitstop.”





Have you ever got the ‘joker’ lap wrong?



“One time I got it proper wrong because if forgot to take it and got a 30 seconds penalty in Portugal in 2017. That was a bit of a mess so the best remark I can make is to make sure you do it!”




And was there a time when you really benefited?



“The first World RX race I won, in Portugal 2015, I won because | had a good ‘joker’ strategy. I did it on the first lap and it was the key to the victory for me.”






- Richard Rodgers, photos WTCR

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/joker-lap-back-wtcr-race-portugal---193182.html

28.06.2019 / MaP

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