ETCC - Home Heroes In The Mix As Title Chase Resumes


ETCC - 2017 Race of Vila Real - Preview 

ETCC, Race of Vila Real, Motorsport, Portugal

RACE PREVIEW: FIA ETCC Race of Vila Real, rounds 7 and 8 of 12, 24-25 June 2017

*Local racers Mota and Rodrigues up for Vila Real street circuit action
*Schreiber heads Fulín by single point in European Touring Car Cup
*Races shown live on free-to-air TV in Portugal

Fábio Mota and FIA European Touring Car Cup rookie José Rodrigues will be aiming for home success when the ETCC heads to Vila Real from 24-25 June. And with Christjohannes Schreiber and Petr Fulín one point apart in the battle for title success, an action-packed weekend is in store on the streets of northern Portugal.

At the halfway point of the season, Swiss Schreiber (Rikli Motorsport Honda Civic) tops the points table with three wins to the two scored by his Czech rival Fulín (Křenek Motorsport SEAT León), despite a double non-score at last month’s ETCC Race of Nürburgring Nordschleife. Mota, meanwhile, is playing catch-up following a frustrating start to his campaign but will start his home event boosted by a pair of podium finishes last time out in Germany in his LEIN Racing SEAT.

While the Nürburgring Nordschleife is rated as the toughest track on the planet, the 4.785-kilometre Vila Real street track is known affectionately as the Nürburgring Nordschleife of the South due to its similar blend of blind turns, climbs, descents and unforgiving nature. And like its German counterpart, fans visit Vila Real Real in their thousands making for a memorable weekend of touring car racing when the other ETCC regulars will be hoping to make an impact.

Igor Stefanovski scored his first win of 2017 in Germany in his self-run SEAT and is now third in the points. The Macedonian will look to continue that form in Portugal where Honda-driving Swiss Peter Rikli will be a firm contender for victory.

Andreas Pfister twice finished in the points on home soil in Germany in his older-specification SEAT, as did Hungary’s Norbert Nagy, who scored his first ETCC pole in Vila Real last season and came agonisingly close to victory until a puncture wrecked his hopes late on. Nagy is joined in the three-strong Zengő Motorsport line-up by fellow youngsters Zsolt Dávid Szabó and female racer Anett György. Serb Mladen Lalušić partners Mota at LEIN Racing, while Bulgaria’s Plamen Kralev is the sole Audi RS3 LMS driver in action.

José Rodrigues will make his FIA European Touring Car Cup debut at ETCC Race of Vila Real in a Target Competition Honda Civic. A protégé of World Touring Car Championship star Tiago Monteiro, Braga-based Rodrigues will be hoping to follow in the wheel tracks of compatriot Manuel Fernandes, who claimed an emotional home win on a one-off ETCC appearance last season. “It’s for me a pleasure to race in Portugal,” said Rodrigues, who won the TCR support race in Vila Real in 2016. “It’s important for me to be with my sponsors in my home race, I love street circuits and I love Vila Real. “I am confident and it’s good to be doing more racing but I know the ETCC is very hard so I don’t expect to win.” Of his manager Monteiro, Rodrigues added: “It’s important that Tiago is with me. He gives perfect advice to me and is the number one in touring car racing. It’s amazing we can make this race weekend together.”

ETCC Race of Vila Real is set for a live television extravaganza with TVI showing both races as they happen on several digital platforms including TVI Player, and The exciting agreement is in addition to Eurosport 2’s live coverage of the ETCC. Both races will also be streamed live at

Top Portuguese driver Fábio Mota will be hoping to make a big impact on the streets of Vila Real this weekend as he looks to build on his ETCC podium double last time out in Germany.

How confident are you of a strong result in Vila Real?
“With the Nordschleife results we become stronger as a team and I believe this will help us to enter in Vila Real with an even more stronger approach. But as the home driver there will be more pressure because home drivers are the focus of attention. Some F1 drivers take years to win their home race so it’s not easy. But it’s a very positive situation and I will try to enjoy the weekend.”

What do you think of the Vila Real track – are you a fan?
“It’s really difficult, a mix between the Nürburgring Nordschleife and Macau. I will try to make a good result and, above all, do a good show for the fans who have a big expectation.”

How much knowledge do you have of Vila Real?
“My first race there was in 2009 in a Renault Clio. In 2010 I raced there in a SEAT and in 2014 I was there with the Mégane Trophy and also in 2015. Then in 2016 I was there with ETCC so in terms of experience it’s good. But I still need to work and the simulator is very important for this, also watching videos and walking the track, which is particularly important on a city circuit.”

What can you achieve this weekend?
“I try not to think too much about a winning situation. Of course I want to win and it would be very special to do that in one of the two races but it’s not the ultimate question. The most important thing is to have a strong pace and finish in the points. To be in the top three is my ambition.”

WEEKEND OVERVIEW: The ETCC is making its second appearance in Vila Real following the inaugural race in 2016. The track action begins with a 45-minute test session from 08h30 on Saturday 24 June followed by Free Practice for 45 minutes from 14h15. Qualifying lasts 30 minutes and begins at 18h00. Sunday’s 11-lap races start at 11h45 and 13h00. Click here for live timing and results.

TRACK GUIDE IN 100 WORDS: A circuit oozing history and intrigue, racing has been held on the hillside roads of Vila Real since 1931, when Gaspar Sameiro and Ercilio Barbosa conquered the original 7.150-kilometre course in a Ford Model A. Safety and financial factors meant races were held on an irregular basis until the WTCC’s arrival in 2015 provided stability and Vila Real’s first world championship-level race meeting. The 4.785-kilometre layout now used is a challenging blend of turns, climbs and descents. While a handful of chicanes were installed for safety reasons, the spectacle remains unaltered with speeds topping 200kph on the final downhill section.

PROVISIONAL KEY TIMINGS:  Saturday 24 June: 08h30-09h15: Testing; 14h15-15h00: Free Practice; 18h00-18h30: Qualifying; 18h35 (approx.): Post-Qualifying press conference (Media Centre) Sunday 25 June: 11h45-12h15: Race 1 (11 laps); 13h00-13h30: Race 2 (11 laps); 13h35: Race podiums; 13h45 (approx.): Post-Race press conference (Media Centre). Timings provisional, subject to change

WHAT HAPPENED IN 2016? Kris Richard moved joint top of the FIA European Touring Car Cup standings with his fourth victory of 2016 on Vila Real's taxing street track. But it was local driver Manuel Fernandes who thrilled the Portuguese fans with a dramatic home win in Race 1 when a puncture sent fellow SEAT driver Norbert Nagy wide and out of the lead. Nagy hit back with third in the reverse-grid Race 2 behind Fernandes as Richard charged through from fourth in his TCN2-specification Honda Civic to win. Petr Fulín was second in Race 1 ahead of Peter Rikli. But contact between the pair in Race 2 dropped Rikli out of contention and handed Fulín a drive-through penalty, plus the loss of his title advantage. Niklas Mackshin was a double winner in the Super 1600 Cup, while Kevin Hilgenhövel, Tomáš Korený and Andreas Rinke took category podiums.

WHAT’S NEW FOR 2017? While the ETCC continues to feature at four WTCC events, including on a combined grid at the Nürburgring Nordschleife, Zolder returns to the calendar after a break of 12 months and Most hosts the ETCC for the first time at its season-finale meeting in early October. In other changes, the ETCC Super 2000 Cup has been renamed ETCC 1 with the ETCC Super 1600 Cup renamed ETCC 2. The ETCC Nations’ Cup will not be awarded in 2017.

ETCC RULES REFRESHER: As in previous seasons, the results of Qualifying will determine the grid order for Race 1 with the results of the first race deciding the starting grid for Race 2, albeit with the top eight finishers lining up in reverse order. However, unlike in previous seasons both races will begin from a standing start. ETCC competitors will score points as follows: fastest three drivers in qualifying: 3-2-1. The top eight finishers in each class in each race will score: 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1. A race-by-race prize fund of €18,000 will be shared among the classified finishers in ETCC 1. Yokohama continues as the ETCC’s tyre partner for 2017.

PROVISIONAL STANDINGS: 1 Schreiber 44; 2 Fulín 43; 3 Stefanovski 33; 4 Nagy 31; 5 Rikli 25; etc. Full standings are available here.