FIA WTCR RACE PREVIEW: NEW TRACK, SAME INTENSE GLORY CHASE AS WTCR VROOMS TO VALLELUNGA | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile

FIA WTCR RACE PREVIEW: NEW TRACK, SAME INTENSE GLORY CHASE AS WTCR VROOMS TO VALLELUNGA

20.07.22

The WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup is heading to unchartered territory from July 22-24 when Vallelunga hosts WTCR Race of Italy for the first time.

But while the WTCR might be new to the venue north of Rome, Vallelunga is part of Italian motorsport folklore with the track the setting of many famous touring car battles in the early 1990s.

And by using the Autodromo Vallelunga Piero Taruffi’s 3.228-kilometre Historical International layout, fans will get the ultimate view of the action thanks to the giant grandstand located on the start/finish straight offering views of much of the circuit.

With the FIA ETCR eTouring Car World Cup from WTCR promoter Discovery Sports Events sharing top billing, there’s plenty to keep spectators entertained, plus complimentary venue access

Having opened in 1951, Autodromo Vallelunga Piero Taruffi is named in honour of the Mille Miglia road racer, who was the track’s principal design engineer. It has played host to international and national-level competition over the past half-century, including the inaugural ETCR event in June last year and the first FIA Motorsport Games in October, which included the Touring Car Cup consisting of two races for TCR cars.

HOW A FORMER KING OF WTCR IS HELPING GOODYEAR #FOLLOWTHELEADER AZCONA

The WTCR heads to Italy with the title race tightly poised following the recent visit to Portugal for some classic round-the-houses racing Vila Real style. Having won three times in 2022, Spain’s Mikel Azcona is the Goodyear #FollowTheLeader with a 16-point title advantage. Driving a Hyundai Elantra TCR for Italian outfit BRC Racing Team, Azcona has previous Vallelunga knowledge to count on.

 

“In Vallelunga I have driven only once, last year with ETCR, so I have very good memories,” the 26-year-old said. “I like the track and for the TCR car it matches very well. When you are leading [the standings] it is always good. For Vallelunga it gives us a small advantage but everything can happen in one weekend. We just need to keep following on this line with good results, a good feeling with the car, and a good atmosphere working with the team and everybody.”

Azcona replaced Gabriele Tarquini alongside Norbert Michelisz in the BRC line-up for 2022 after the Italian legend retired from full-time driving at the end of last season following a glittering career that included winning the first WTCR title in 2018. He’s now Team Manager at Cherasco-based BRC.

“Mikel is very fast and has probably made the best start to a season there has been,” Tarquini said. “I was pushing Hyundai to Mikel because I trust him, I was racing with him and I know he is one of the best drivers so I push very hard to have Mikel in the team, even if I didn’t then know I would be working with the team. For sure if I can tell him something from my experience I will do so but, to be honest, he doesn’t need a lot of support from me because he’s great.”

Tarquini’s view of Azcona hasn’t always been so positive, however, with the duo both known for their pace but combative driving style. “The first impact with Mikel was not very good because we crashed together in Hungary [in 2019] although this is part of the game and in this category in the beginning it’s very easy to have contact. But I remember my last win [in WTCR] last year in Aragón. He was following me for the full race, he drove very well and was a very tough opponent for me.”

Having turned 60 in March, Tarquini could have settled for a more relaxed retirement following a career that began back in 1974 but found the chance to move into team management too tempting to turn down. “To be honest nothing is more exciting than driving but this new job, to be part of the team, to try to transfer my long experience… except for the driver the second-best place in the team is the job I am doing now.”

Azcona is one of five drivers to have won WTCR races in 2022 and heads Santiago Urrutia (Cyan Performance Lynk & Co) and King of WTCR Yann Ehrlacher (Cyan Racing Lynk & Co) in the provisional standings. Urrutia, ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport’s Néstor Girolami, Zengő Motorsport’s Rob Huff and Comtoyou Team Audi Sport’s Gilles Magnus have also triumphed outright in 2022 to underline the wide-open nature of the WTCR.

CORONEL, GUERRIERI, MICHELISZ NEXT TO JOIN THE WTCR 100 CLUB

After Thed Björk, Yann Ehrlacher and Yvan Muller became the first drivers to achieve the milestone of 100 WTCR starts in Vila Real, Tom Coronel (Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport), Esteban Guerrieri (ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport) and Norbert Michelisz (BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse) are set to follow suit at WTCR Race of Italy. Coronel and Guerrieri have 99 WTCR starts to their name, while Michelisz is on 98.

 

WTCR RACE OF ITALY ESSENTIALS

Rounds: 11 and 12 of 20

Date: July 22-24

Venue: Autodromo Vallelunga Piero Taruffi

Location: Via Mola Maggiorana 4, 00063 Campagnano di Roma (RM), Italy

Length: 3.228 kilometres
Race 1 distance: 30 minutes + 1 lap
Race 2 distance: 25 minutes + 1 lap

WTCR lap record (qualifying): 
To be established
WTCR lap record (race): 
To be established

 

Timetable:

Friday July 22

12h00-13h00: Test Session

Saturday July 23

09h00-09h45: Free Practice 1

12h15-12h45: Free Practice 2

15h00-15h20: Qualifying Q1

15h25-15h35: Qualifying Q2

15h45-16h00: Qualifying Q3

Sunday July 24

11h15: Race 1 (30 minutes+1 lap)

12h00 (approx.): Race 1 podium

17h10: Race 2 (25 minutes+1 lap)

17h50 (approx.): Race 2 podium

 

Recent winners

WTCR Race of Italy winners 2021 (Adria International Raceway):

Race 1: Santiago Urrutia (URY) Cyan Performance Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR
Race 2: Yann Ehrlacher (FRA) Cyan Racing Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR

 

WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup entry list 2022

5 Norbert Michelisz (HUN) BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse, Hyundai Elantra N TCR

9 Attila Tasi (HUN) LIQUI MOLY Team Engstler, Honda Civic Type R TCR

11 Thed Björk (SWE) Cyan Performance Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR

12 Santiago Urrutia (URY) Cyan Performance Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR

16 Gilles Magnus (BEL) Comtoyou Team Audi Sport, Audi RS 3 LMS

17 Nathanaël Berthon (FRA) Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport, Audi RS 3 LMS

18 Tiago Monteiro (PRT) LIQUI MOLY Team Engstler, Honda Civic Type R TCR

25 Mehdi Bennani (MAR) Comtoyou Team Audi Sport, Audi RS 3 LMS

29 Néstor Girolami (ARG) ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R TCR

33 Tom Coronel (NLD) Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport, Audi RS 3 LMS

55 Ma Qing Hua (CHN) Cyan Racing Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR

68 Yann Ehrlacher (FRA) Cyan Performance Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR

79 Rob Huff (GBR) Zengő Motorsport, CUPRA Leon Competición

86 Esteban Guerrieri (ARG) ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R TCR

96 Mikel Azcona (ESP) BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse, Hyundai Elantra N TCR

99 Dániel Nagy (HUN) Zengő Motorsport, CUPRA Leon Competición

100 Yvan Muller (FRA) Cyan Racing Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR

 

HOW THEY STAND?

WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup for Drivers provisional standings

Goodyear #FollowTheLeader: Mikel Azcona, 153 points

2 Santiago Urrutia, 137 points

3 Yann Ehrlacher, 133 points

4 Rob Huff, 130 points

5 Néstor Girolami, 113 points

 

WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup for Teams provisional standings

1 BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse, 218 points

2 Cyan Performance Lynk & Co, 211 points

3 Cyan Racing Lynk & Co, 211 points

4 ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, 188 points

5 Zengő Motorsport, 155 points

 

WTCR Trophy provisional standings

1 Rob Huff, 85 points

2 Mehdi Bennani, 49 points

3 Tom Coronel, 34 points

4 Dániel Nagy, 28 points

 

Click HERE to view the full provisional standings