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WTCC - 2015 Race OF France - Preview

The second half of the 2015 FIA World Touring Car Championship season is go at Le Castellet in France this week with five home talents in action at the famous Circuit Paul Ricard close to Marseille.
Sebastien Loeb WTCC

2015 FIA World Touring Car Championship rounds 13 and 14 of 24
Circuit Paul Ricard (France), 26-28 June. 

*Loeb and Muller eye outright success for Citroën
*Top drivers from Honda and LADA also set to impress
*Leading privateer Valente heads trio of rising local stars

Grégoire Demoustier, John Filippi, nine-time world rally champion Sébastien Loeb, quadruple WTCC title winner Yvan Muller and ace independent Hugo Valente will all be flying the tricolore at WTCC Race of France, which also marks the home event for Citroën, the dominant make so far this year with 10 wins from a possible 12.

For Loeb and Muller in particular, the race cannot come soon enough as they look to continue their winning momentum following their respective triumphs in WTCC Race of Slovakia last weekend. Muller’s victory, his fourth of the season, put him level with team-mate and reigning world champion José María López in terms of races won, while also trimming the Argentine’s title advantage to 30 points. “To win is always a very good thing and when it’s at home it’s even better,” said Muller who, like Loeb, hails from the Alsace region of France. “We will do our best but for the championship we are still far away.”

Not only will Loeb be driving in Le Castellet, his eponymous team, Sébastien Loeb Racing, prepares a brace of Yokohama-shod Citroën C-Eylsée WTCCs for Morocco’s Mehdi Bennani and China’s Ma Qing Hua, who competes under the Citroën Total WTCC banner alongside Loeb, López and Muller.

Castrol Honda World Touring Car pair Tiago Monteiro (Portugal) and Gabriele Tarquini (Italy) head the Japanese make’s WTCC challenge. Meanwhile, LADA Sport Rosneft has a strong association with France: its technical partner ORECA is French, while the new-for-2015 Vesta TC1 had its first test in the country. Briton Rob Huff and Dutchmen Nicky Catsburg and Jaap van Lagen form the LADA driver line-up.

Tom Chilton and Tom Coronel will chase Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy success in their ROAL Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1s, the car of choice for Campos Racing pair Filippi and Valente and Craft-Bamboo’s Demoustier. Charismatic Italian Stefano D’Aste also relies on Chevrolet power for ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport. Meanwhile, Rickard Rydell is back on WTCC duty for Honda Racing team Sweden after skipping Slovakia.


Citroën’s home heroes Sébastien Loeb and Yvan Muller on Paul Ricard, the WTCC, France and each other.

What does Paul Ricard mean to you?
“Paul Ricard means big history and big stories. The first time I was at Paul Ricard was as a child to see the Formula One grand prix in 1982. I was at Signes corner and Jochen Mass crashed and went into the tribune. He stopped with the people and I was only 10 metres away. The track has changed a lot since then.”
SL: “For me, Paul Ricard was my first race experience in 1997 with the MG Trophy. Dominique Heintz, my associate, was driving in the MG Trophy. They were doing some rallying and some racing. It was when they had to invite one driver and they invited me. It was a good memory because I won the race. Since then it’s the track where I have the most experience. My first F1 test was there. I drove there with the motorbike, the Peugeot from Le Mans, the Pescarolo from Le Mans. It was a track where I drove with a lot of cars.”

Sébastien, what is your first memory of Yvan?
“It was when he was doing Trophée Andros. At this time it was quite famous in France and I heard more about him from this than from racing because I was not interested in racing or rallying, but Trophée Andros we heard about as he was also an Alsatian. We are from the same region and he was on the top in his discipline.”

And what about you Yvan, when do you recall meeting Sébastien?
“It was at an ice race meeting. We were in the same club for the licence and our club president came with him. He was starting rally and the president came and said that’s the future star of rally and he was right. He came to see if I could do something to introduce him to Opel because I was driving for Opel at that time. It didn’t happen but we try.”

Who is better, you or Sébastien?
“I am better than him in rallying, he is better than me in racing.”

What about Alsace – is there something in the water that means it produces such good racing drivers?
“Sauerkraut! It’s a speciality of Alsace. It’s probably this.”
SL: “I didn’t eat so much of that so maybe beer.”
YM: “But I don’t drink beer. Maybe that’s why he’s nine-times world champion and I am only four! Alsace has always a culture of motor racing. Bob Wollek at his time. Bugatti is done at Alsace. The Peugeot factory is near Alsace. Bruno Spengler is from Alsace, he’s not Canadian.”
SL: “Sebastian Vettel was born not far from Alsace!”

What do you like about Sébastien?
“Before, he was doing rally and I was doing circuit and we met maybe two or three times in the year for the FIA prize-giving or some event like this. What I like about him is his way to be. But I don’t enjoy having to wait for him because he is never on time! No, I have to say he’s always on time but always 10 minutes late, so in the end he’s on time but on his time! The problem is I am always a bit early and he’s a bit late. I like his way to be in terms of stress or managing some moment of racing or life.”

What about Yvan, what are the good things about him?
“What is clear with him is you know what he thinks. He’s straight and direct and if he doesn’t enjoy something you will know. It’s nice to work with guys like that so you know it’s fair and clear and you get on well. On the track each driver is trying their best. I enjoy to work with him.”

How much of a help has he been to you since you started in the WTCC?
“For sure, to have him in the team helps us to grow up quicker and improve the car because of his experience of the races and the discipline. To be able to compare my data with him… He gives me a lot of advice and I know he’s the best reference around.”

Sébastien’s experience in circuit racing is much less than yours Yvan, so when he is quicker than you, is that a problem for you?
“It’s not a problem for me. Okay, his experience of circuit racing is not big as mine, but he is a nine-times world champion and this is not by chance. If you look at his career already on the circuit it is big. He finished second in the Le Mans 24 Hours and I didn’t. In terms of driving he doesn’t have much to learn from me. He has the capacity to analyse, to change his style of driving.”

If there was on-track contact between you, do you think you could resolve it quite quickly afterwards?
“It happened in Shanghai last year. We forget it. But I still have a credit!”
SL: “He didn’t destroy my car but he put me on the grass so it is only a half-credit!”
YM: “It’s the race. It’s not very often it happens but it happens. If it would be every meeting then it would be different of course.”
SL: “Everybody is allowed to do a mistake. He did the same mistake as me in the next meeting on Hugo Valente. It’s even more difficult for us because usually we are fighting between team-mates. And for me it is much more difficult to be fighting with a team-mate. You don’t want to crash into him but sometimes you still have to try to pass and the situation is more complicated like that.”
YM: “In Shanghai of course I was upset, but I was more upset to have lost some points in the championship than to have been pushed by him. Okay, it happens, and it’s the same if it was another one. I knew it was not on purpose but I also knew the next time there would be more caution. That’s the important thing.”

What about a holiday destination in France, what would you recommend?
“Both of us are going to the south east of France for holidays, we have houses over there. We go there because it’s a bit more easy-going, but if you go on the west coast it’s very nice as well. France is very beautiful. Sometimes we know more of the world than our home country but France is nice everywhere.”
SL: “I would say the same. The coast or the Alps.”

Circuit Paul Ricard
Location: RDN8 2760 Route des Hauts du Camp, 83330 Le Castellet
Length: 3.812 kilometres
Race distance: 2 x 16 laps
Lap record (qualifying): Yvan Muller (Citroën C-Elysée), 1m29.566s (154.38kph), 19/04/2014
Lap record (race): José María López (Citroën C-Elysée), 1m31.468s (151.174kph), 20/04/2014
WTCC appearances: One (2014)
Time zone: GMT +2 hours
Sunrise/sunset: 06h00/21h23 (Sunday 28 June)
Average temperature: 16°C-26°C (for June)

Paul Ricard was the traditional home of the French Grand Prix with the first race held in 1971. But since the last F1 race in 1990, the track has undergone a total revamp. It hosted the WTCC for the first time in 2014.

Event press officer:
Magali Bernard,, +33 670269601
Accreditation location/opening times: The Media Accreditation Centre is located at the Welcome Centre next to the main circuit entrance. The Media Accreditation Centre is open as follows: Friday 26 June, 08h00-18h00; Saturday 27 June, 08h00-18h00; Sunday 28 June, 08h00-12h00. Media centre location/opening times: The Media Centre is located on the Second Floor of the Pit Building and open as follows: Friday 26 June, 08h00-20h00; Saturday 27 June, 08h00-20h00; Sunday 28 June, 08h00-until the last journalist leaves.

Friday 26 June

08h00-20h00: Media Accreditation Centre open
08h00-20h00: Media Centre open
12h00-12h30: WTCC Testing
18h00-19h00: WTCC Happy Hour, location TBA
Saturday 27 June
08h00-20h00: Media Accreditation Centre open
08h00-20h00: Media Centre open
09h00-09h30: WTCC Free Practice 1
11h00-12h00: WTCC Free Practice 2
13h45-14h15: WTCC driver autograph session (pit lane)
15h00-15h20: WTCC Qualifying Q1
15h25-15h35: WTCC Qualifying Q2
15h40 (pit lane opens): WTCC Qualifying Q3
16h10 (approx.): WTCC Post-qualifying press conference (Media Centre)
Sunday 28 June
08h00-12h00: Media Accreditation Centre open
08h00-until the last journalist leaves: Media Centre open
09h45-10h30: WTCC driver autograph session (pit lane)
12h20: Pit lane open
12h30: Pit lane closed
12h40: Five-minute board displayed
12h45: WTCC Race 1 (16 laps)
13h25 (approx.): WTCC podium race 1
13h30: WTCC refuelling time starts
13h35: WTCC repair time starts
13h40: Pit lane open
13h50: Pit lane closed
13h55: Five-minute board displayed
14h00: WTCC Race 2 (16 laps)
14h40 (approx.): WTCC podium race 2
15h00 (approx.): WTCC post-race press conference (Media Centre)

Timings are provisional and subject to change. Additional activities may be arranged.

Sébastien Loeb and José María Lopéz claimed a victory apiece as the 2015 FIA World Touring Car Championship got off to a spectacular start with two action-packed races in Argentina. López, the national hero and reigning WTCC champion, triumphed in race one to the delight of the home crowd at a sun-drenched Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo. However, the 31-year-old was unable to prevent his Citroën team-mate Loeb from claiming top spot in the second event, which was punctuated by a safety car period to allow trackside marshals to clear debris from the track following a handful of early clashes. Yvan Muller finished second in race one following a first-corner bump with Lopéz as Loeb made it a Citroën podium lockout. Honda driver Tiago Monteiro completed the podium in race two, with second place for Lopéz – plus the five points he scored for claiming pole position for race one – helping the Argentine to a five-point championship lead over Loeb. Norbert Michelisz charged through from the back of the grid to win the Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy in race one with Mehdi Bennani taking the class laurels in the second counter, despite contact with Muller sending him into a spin. It was an incident-filled start to 2015 for LADA drivers Rob Huff and James Thompson, who both showed promise but were ultimately out of luck.

Morocco: José María López and four-time title winner Yvan Muller were the street heroes of Marrakech, with the Citroën Racing aces coming out on top of two thrilling contests that formed Eurodatacar WTCC Race of Morocco. López bagged race one glory from pole with Muller repeating the feat in the second 14-lap chase for WTCC success. China’s Ma Qing Hua scored his first podium of 2015 with the runner-up spot in the opening race as Sébastien Loeb held off home hero Mehdi Bennani for third. Muller converted pole to victory in race two despite intense pressure from Loeb. López battled back from 10th to third to remain in control of the title race with a 17-point advantage after four rounds. Bennani’s fourth in race one gave him the Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy laurels while Tom Chilton secured the category honours in the second event at the wheel of his privateer Chevrolet. Both rounds at the sun-baked Circuit Moulay El Hassan street course produced plenty of drama with Tom Coronel forced out of the first race following contact with Chilton. Coronel was also out of luck in race two when he clashed with Honda’s Tiago Monteiro at turn one following a bump from the pursuing Norbert Michelisz. Former champion Rob Huff was eliminated in the second race after a hefty hit from LADA team-mate Mikhail Kozlovskiy nearing the completion of the opening lap.

Hungary: Norbert Michelisz underlined his status as a national hero by winning the second MOL Group WTCC Race of Hungary to claim Honda’s maiden victory in 2015 and end Citroën’s dominant start to the season. Driving the revamped Civic WTCC for the first time, Michelisz capitalised on his pole position in the reverse-grid race two for an emotional win in front of 35,000 fans. The Zengő Motorsport driver’s success followed world champion José María López’s third triumph of the year for Citroën in the opening contest, which ensures the Argentine remained the driver to catch in the title chase. Yvan Muller and Hugo Valente completed the race one podium with Tom Coronel and Tom Chilton second and third respectively in race two in their Chevrolet Cruze TC1s. Valente and Michelisz were the two Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy winners. However, it was a case of mixed fortunes for LADA Sport Rosneft with Rob Huff’s ninth in the opening race the highlight.

Germany: José María López became the first driver since Jacky Ickx and Jochen Mass in 1983 to win a world championship race on the Nürburgring Nordschleife after claiming victory in the opening WTCC Race of Germany – and then very nearly made it two wins from two in the second event. Starting 10th for race two, the defending WTCC champion charged through the pack in a dramatic contest to close to within 0.173 seconds of Citroën team-mate Yvan Muller crossing the finishing line following a thrilling slipstream battle for glory. The WTCC was making its first appearance on the 25-kilometre layout, which combines the modern Grand Prix Circuit and the legendary Nordschleife loop. López blasted into the lead at the start of race one and remained out in front on the back of an impressive display as fellow front-row starter Hugo Valente hit trouble, eventually crashing out on lap two. Sébastien Loeb kept up his chase of López in the battle for WTCC title success with second place at the iconic Eifel mountain venue, while four-time champion Muller made it an all-Citroën podium, as Norbert Michelisz took fourth for Honda and the Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy spoils. Tiago Monteiro led away from pole in the reverse grid second race but was unable to fend off Muller on the two-kilometre-long Döttinger Hohe straight on lap one. Monteiro remained latched to Muller only for López to drag ahead on the final lap, having slipstreamed Gabriele Tarquini for third seconds earlier. The dramatic action was broadcast live on television around the world and thrilled the thousands of fans watching trackside. Elsewhere, local ace Sabine Schmitz became the first female to score a WTCC point when she finished 10th in race one on her maiden appearance in the series.

Russia: Yvan Muller (Citroën) and Tiago Monteiro (Honda) came out on top of two thrilling races at a sun-baked Moscow Raceway as ROSNEFT WTCC Race of Russia delivered drama and action from start to finish. And there were celebrations too for LADA Sport ROSNEFT after Rob Huff delivered a breakthrough podium in the second race, much to the delight of the home fans. With defending world champion José María López serving a drive-through penalty for a jumped-start in race two, Muller’s opening race triumph and sixth place in the second counter meant the four-time WTCC champion narrowed López’s title advantage to 35 points heading to the halfway point of the season. Elsewhere, Tom Chilton and Norbert Michelisz shared the Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy honours, while there was further joy for Honda when Gabriele Tarquini took third behind López in race one, which began with four WTCC champions filling the top four starting positions and four manufacturers in the top five. FIA President Jean Todt was also in attendance and joined the WTCC drivers for a photo call to promote the FIA Action for Road Safety #SIGNTHEPLEDGE campaign.

Slovakia: Yvan Muller narrowed José María López’s advantage at the top of the standings to 30 points with his fourth win of the campaign in the first WTCC Race of Slovakia. However, both WTCC champions had no answer to Citroën team-mate Sébastien Loeb, who bagged his first win since March with a fine drive in the second race at the sun-baked Slovakia Ring where 40,000 fans watched the bumper-to-bumper action over the course of the weekend. Starting from pole, Muller produced a faultless display in his C-Elysée WTCC to win the opening 11-lap contest from López with Loeb third after the latter pair had initially battled for position. Rob Huff finished fourth for LADA with Hugo Valente topping the Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy in his Campos Racing Chevrolet Cruze, one place ahead of Honda driver Gabriele Tarquini. Jaap van Lagen started the reverse grid second race in first place but was unable to keep the chasing pack at bay, first dropping behind Tarquini before losing out to the flying Citroën trio. He finished sixth with Tarquini slipping to fourth and Valente again the top independent racer in fifth.

Race wins in 2015:
López and Muller 4, Loeb 2, Michelisz and Monteiro 1
Pole positions in 2015: López and Muller 3
Fastest laps in 2015: López 6, Loeb and Muller 2, Huff and Tarquini 1
Laps led in 2015: Muller 44, López 43, Loeb 22, Monteiro 16, Michelisz 14, Tarquini 2, Ma 1

Drivers’ Championship (after round 12 of 24): 1 José María López 239pts; 2 Yvan Muller 209; 3 Sébastien Loeb 178; 4 Tiago Monteiro 108; 5 Gabriele Tarquini 96; 6 Norbert Michelisz 86; 7 Ma Qing Hua 84; 8 Tom Chilton 61; 9 Rob Huff 55; 10 Hugo Valente 55; etc. Manufacturers’ Championship (after round 12 of 24): 1 Citroën 529pts; 2 Honda 366; 3 LADA 157. Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy (after round 12 of 24): 1 Norbert Michelisz 83pts; 2 Tom Chilton 74; 3 Mehdi Bennani 67; 4 Hugo Valente 62; 5 Stefano D’Aste 45; 6 Tom Coronel 41; 7 John Filippi 37; 8 Grégoire Demoustier 33; 9 Sabine Schmitz 9; 10 Dušan Borković 5. Yokohama Teams’ Trophy (after round 12 of 24): 1 ROAL Motorsport 110; 2 Campos Racing 90; 3 Zengő Motorsport 80pts; 3 Sébastien Loeb Racing 59; 5 ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport 50; 6 Craft-Bamboo 29; 7 Honda Racing team Sweden 28; 8 Proteam Racing 4.

Date of birth: 2 March 1963 Team: Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team Car: Honda Civic WTCC WTCC 2014: 6th (1 win) Career in brief: An ex-F1 driver with 37 grand prix starts, Tarquini is also the winner of 20 WTCC races. He began his touring car career in 1989 and won the British title for Alfa Romeo in 1994. He then added the European crown in 2003 before becoming WTCC champion with SEAT in 2009. WTCC 2015: Pole positions: 0 Wins: 0 Fastest laps: 1 Laps led: 2 Points: 96 Position: 5

#3 TOM CHILTON (GBR) I Date of birth: 15 March 1985 Team: ROAL Motorsport Car: Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 WTCC 2014: 8th (1 win) Career in brief: Chilton made his touring car debut in the 2002 British series at the tender age of 17. He took his first win at Silverstone in 2004 and won the Independents’ Trophy. Since switching to the WTCC in 2012, he has scored three race wins in a Chevrolet between 2013-14. Web: WTCC 2015: Pole positions: 0 Wins: 0 Fastest laps: 0 Laps led: 0 Points: 61 Position: 8

#4 TOM CORONEL (NLD) I Date of birth: 5 April 1972 Team: ROAL Motorsport Car: Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 WTCC 2014: 7th (best result 2nd) Career in brief: Coronel had a brief spell racing touring cars at home before switching to Formula 3 and winning the Japanese title in 1997. He then won the Japanese Formula Nippon series in 1999. A mainstay of the WTCC since 2005, Coronel has claimed four race wins and is a two-time winner of the Yokohama Trophy in 2006 and ’09. He contested his second Dakar Rally in January. Web: WTCC 2015: Pole positions: 0 Wins: 0 Fastest laps: 0 Laps led: 0 Points: 27 Position: 12

#5 NORBERT MICHELISZ (HUN) I Date of birth: 8 August 1984 Team: Zengő Motorsport Car: Honda Civic WTCC WTCC 2014: 4th (best result 2nd) Career in brief: Michelisz spent his formative years in SEAT Leóns, winning the SEAT León Eurocup in 2009 and the national series at home in Hungary. He made his WTCC debut in a León in 2010, scoring a win in the final round at Macau, before switching to Honda power for 2013 and triumphing at Suzuka. Web: WTCC 2015: Pole positions: 0 Wins: 1 Fastest laps: 0 Laps led: 14 Points: 86 Position: 6

#7 HUGO VALENTE (FRA) I Date of birth: 17 June 1992 Team: Campos Racing Car: Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 WTCC 2014: 17th (best result 3rd) Career in brief: With a background in karting and Formula Renault, Valente won the French SEAT León Supercópa in 2012 before progressing to the WTCC the following season. He scored three third-place finishes last year in Morocco, Hungary and Macau, and sticks with Chevrolet power and Campos Racing for 2015. Web: WTCC 2015: Pole positions: 0 Wins: 0 Fastest laps: 0 Laps led: 0 Points: 55 Position: 10

#9 SÉBASTIEN LOEB (FRA) Date of birth: 26 February 1974 Team: Citroën Total WTCC Car: Citroën C-Elysée WTCC WTCC 2014: 3rd (2 wins) Career in brief: As the most successful driver in World Rally Championship history, Loeb needs little introduction, suffice to say that he won the WRC title an extraordinary nine times between 2004-12 for Citroën. And it was with the French manufacturer that Loeb made a first successful foray into the WTCC last year with two wins and third in the standings. Web: WTCC 2015: Pole positions: 0 Wins: 2 Fastest laps: 1 Laps led: 22 Points: 178 Position: 3

#10 NICK CATSBURG (NLD) Date of birth: 15 February 1988 Team: LADA Sport Rosneft Car: LADA Vesta TC1 WTCC 2014: Did not compete Career in brief: A champion in Formula Ford and a podium finisher in Formula Renault, Catsburg has enjoyed a successful career in sportscar and endurance racing and makes his WTCC debut in Russia with the factory LADA squad following a successful test in Magny-Cours recently. A member of the Reiter Engineering squad in the Pirelli World Challenge and Blancpain Sprint Series, Catsburg works as a driver coach when he’s not racing. Web: WTCC 2015: Pole positions: 0 Wins: 0 Fastest laps: 0 Laps led: 0 Points: 13 Position: 14

#11 GRÉGOIRE DEMOUSTIER (FRA) I Date of birth: 26 January 1991 Team: Craft-Bamboo Car: Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 WTCC 2014: Did not compete Career in brief: With experience in single-seater racing, Demoustier made the jump to GT action in 2010. He also started – and finished – the 24 Hours of Spa and tackled four rounds of the FIA GT3 series. Following a brief single-seater comeback at the start of 2011, Demoustier returned to GT racing and progressed to the FIA GT1 World Championship in 2012. WTCC 2015: Pole positions: 0 Wins: 0 Fastest laps: 0 Laps led: 0 Points: 2 Position: 19

#12 ROB HUFF (GBR) Date of birth: 25 December 1979 Team: LADA Sport Rosneft Car: LADA Vesta WTCC 2014: 10th (2 wins) Career in brief: With a background in karting and Britain’s junior formulae, Huff made his British Touring Car Championship debut with SEAT in 2004, winning twice. He moved to the WTCC in 2005 and scored his first win with Chevrolet in ’06 before claiming the drivers’ title in 2012. After scoring breakthrough wins for LADA in 2014, he begins 2015 with a record 225 WTCC starts to his name. Web: WTCC 2015: Pole positions: 0 Wins: 0 Fastest laps: 1 Laps led: 0 Points: 55 Position: 9

#18 TIAGO MONTEIRO (PRT) Date of birth: 24 July 1976 Team: Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team Car: Honda Civic WTCC WTCC 2014: 5th (best result 2nd) Career in brief: Monteiro enjoyed a fruitful single-seater career and was twice runner-up in French F3 before achieving the same result in the 2004 World Series by Nissan, having sampled life in Champ Cars the year before. Two seasons of Formula One followed, with a best result of third for Jordan. He’s raced in the WTCC since 2007. Web: WTCC 2015: Pole positions: 0 Wins: 1 Fastest laps: 0 Laps led: 16 Points: 108 Position: 4

#19 RICKARD RYDELL (SWE) Date of birth: 22 September 1967 Team: Honda Racing team Sweden Car: Honda Civic WTCC WTCC 2014: Did not compete Career in brief: Following significant success in karting and Formula 3, Rydell has been a touring car pacesetter since 1994 when he was signed to drive Volvo’s 850 estate car in the British championship. He was a regular in the series for several seasons and finally took the title in 1998. Following a stint in GT racing, Rydell returned to touring cars in 2002. Web: WTCC 2015: Pole positions: 0 Wins: 0 Fastest laps: 0 Laps led: 0 Points: 3 Position: 18

#25 MEHDI BENNANI (MAR) I Date of birth: 25 August 1983 Team: Sébastien Loeb Racing Car: Citroën C-Elysée WTCC WTCC 2014: 11th (1 win) Career in brief: Bennani sampled European karting and World Series by Renault before winning back-to-back Moroccan Circuit Racing Championships in 2008-09. He made his WTCC debut in ’09 and his persistence paid off when he became the first Moroccan to win an FIA world championship event in Shanghai last season. Web: WTCC 2015: Pole positions: 0 Wins: 0 Fastest laps: 0 Laps led: 0 Points: 46 Position: 11

#26 STEFANO D’ASTE (ITA) I Date of birth: 26 February 1976 Team: ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Car: Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 WTCC 2014: Did not compete Career in brief: Big on experience and big on charisma, D’Aste is also more than capable behind the wheel and returns to WTCC duty after a year out in 2014. With a background in bike racing, D’Aste made the move to four wheels in 1998, albeit in rallying. His first season of car racing was in 2002, three years prior to his step up to the WTCC. Web: WTCC 2015: Pole positions: 0 Wins: 0 Fastest laps: 0 Laps led: 0 Points: 16 Position: 13

#27 JOHN FILIPPI (FRA) I Date of birth: 27 February 1995 Team: Campos Racing Car: Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 WTCC 2014: 18th (best result 8th) Career in brief: Promising Corsican Filippi’s background is in karting, where he competed from 2007-11 before racing in the VdeV Single-Seater Challenge – a series he won in 2013. He made his WTCC debut last year with Campos Racing in a SEAT León and showed his potential by finishing second in the Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy. He steps up to TC1 power in 2015. Web: WTCC 2015: Pole positions: 0 Wins: 0 Fastest laps: 0 Laps led: 0 Points: 5 Position: 17

#33 MA QING HUA (CHN) Date of birth: 25 December 1987 Team: Citroën Total WTCC Car: Citroën C-Elysée WTCC WTCC 2014: 13th (1 win) Career in brief: Ma Qing Hua spent five years racing single-seaters before taking the China Touring Car Championship by storm in 2011, winning the series on his debut. Two years as a Formula One test driver for the HRT and Caterham teams followed, before he drove a fourth works Citroën on occasion in the WTCC last season, triumphing on his debut at Moscow Raceway. WTCC 2015: Pole positions: 0 Wins: 0 Fastest laps: 0 Laps led: 1 Points: 84 Position: 7

#37 JOSÉ MARÍA LÓPEZ (ARG) Date of birth: 26 April 1983 Team: Citroën Total WTCC Car: Citroën C-Elysée WTCC WTCC 2014: 1st (10 wins) Career in brief: Reigning WTCC champion López showed early promise in single-seaters, winning in Formula Renault and GP2. In 2007 he returned to race in Argentina and the following year took the first of three national TC2000 titles. That led to a race-winning WTCC debut in Argentina in 2013 and resulted in a factory drive with Citroën for last season. WTCC 2015: Pole positions: 3 Wins: 4 Fastest laps: 6 Laps led: 43 Points: 239 Position: 1

#46 JAAP VAN LAGEN (NLD) Date of birth: 22 December 1976 Team: LADA Sport Rosneft Car: LADA Vesta WTCC 2014: Did not compete Career in brief: A key member of LADA’s WTCC attack during its formative years, the ex-motocross and single-seater racer has also enjoyed success in sportscars and endurance racing with appearances in the Le Mans and Nürburgring 24 hours. He replaces James Thompson in the factory LADA squad for WTCC Race of Germany. Web: WTCC 2015: Pole positions: 0 Wins: 0 Fastest laps: 0 Laps led: 0 Points: 11 Position: 15

#68 YVAN MULLER (FRA) Date of birth: 16 August 1969 Team: Citroën Total WTCC Car: Citroën C-Elysée WTCC WTCC 2014: 2nd (4 wins) Career in brief: With four titles and more than 40 race wins to his name, Muller is one of the WTCC’s most experienced and successful drivers. Starting out in single-seater racing, Muller won the 1992 British F2 Championship before making his move to touring cars. He was British Touring Car runner-up four times and took the title with Vauxhall in 2003. Web: WTCC 2015: Pole positions: 3 Wins: 4 Fastest laps: 2 Laps led: 44 Points: 209 Position: 2

I = Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy contender

With TC2 cars outlawed from the WTCC for 2015, a full grid of TC1 cars will be the norm this season. There are five new venues on the calendar (Nürburgring Nordschleife, Vila Real, Motegi, Buriram and Loseil) with two countries hosting the WTCC for the first time (Thailand and Qatar). Qatar will stage the WTCC’s first night race, there’s an all-new car from LADA, more cars from Citroën and Honda, new and returning drivers and teams, plus exciting innovations to the TV product. A revamped website and a greater emphasis on the digital offering with exclusive content for online and social media, including the new WTCC Over the Line interactive show, which will be broadcast live from the paddock after each race, are all in store for 2015.

Eurosport, the leading pan-regional sports entertainment destination, will broadcast extensive live coverage of WTCC Race of France with both races shown as they happen on the Eurosport network and Eurosport Player. Live coverage will also be broadcast on a number of networks around the world. Free practice will be streamed live on the championship’s official website,, which will also provide live timing, race commentary, regular news updates, videos and photo galleries, driver and background information, plus links to the WTCC’s social media channels. The media section at provides an essential resource for journalists. Eurosport’s coverage will also incorporate social media integration with driver Twitter and Instagram activity featuring on a split-screen view before each race and during Repair Time.

One session split into three sections: Q1: 20 minutes open to all competitors; Q2: 10 minutes open to the top 12 from Q1; Q3: Open to the top five from Q2, one timed lap each. For the WTCC Race of Germany at Nürburgring there will be one hour-long open session to decide the grid. DHL is the official Pole Position Partner of the WTCC.

Grid: Race one based on the combined (Q1 and Q2) qualifying results. Race two based on the combined (Q1 and Q2) qualifying results with the fastest 10 drivers of Q2 starting in reverse order.

Race: Two 60-kilometre races from standing starts.

Qualifying points: Drivers: Awarded to the fastest five drivers classified in qualifying on a scale of 5-4-3-2-1. Manufacturers: Awarded to the best two cars from each brand classified in qualifying on the same scale as above.

Race points: Drivers: The top 10 classified drivers in both races score points on a scale of 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1. Manufacturers: Awarded to the best two cars from each brand classified in each race on the same scale as above.

Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy: Presented by the championship’s long-term tyre partner Yokohama to non-factory drivers, the following are eligible: #3 Tom Chilton, #4 Tom Coronel, #5 Norbert Michelisz, #7 Hugo Valente, #11 Grégoire Demoustier, #25 Mehdi Bennani, #26 Stefano D’Aste, #27 John Filippi. Points are awarded to the first eight drivers classified in each race on the following scale: 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1. One additional point is awarded to the highest-placed Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy competitor in qualifying and for the fastest lap in each race. A special Trophy is also awarded to the Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy winner at each round. 

Yokohama Teams’ Trophy: For non-factory teams competing in the WTCC, the Yokohama Teams’ Trophy is presented by the championship’s long-term tyre partner, Yokohama. The following teams are eligible: ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, Campos Racing, Craft-Bamboo, Sébastien Loeb Racing, Honda Racing team Sweden, ROAL Motorsport, Zengő Motorsport. The first two cars of each eligible team score points in each race on the following scale: 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1.

Yokohama Performer of the Year: The fastest driver in the 2015 WTCC will receive the WTCC Yokohama Performer of the Year award. It goes to the driver setting the most fastest laps during the season. All registered drivers are eligible. There will be a Yokohama Performer for each race.

Tyres: Yokohama control tyre. Dry-weather slick tyres: A maximum of 20 tyres can be used by each driver in their first appearance of the season. From their second participation onwards, a maximum of 24 tyres can be used of which only 16 can be new. Of these tyres, four are for Q3 only. Wet-weather grooved tyres: A maximum of 16 can be used during each race weekend.

Engine limits: Two engines and six turbos are allowed for the entire season. Engine changes will result in grid penalties.

Compensation weight: Applied to cars according to lap-time calculation. A maximum additional 60kg will be added to the maximum car weight as per Appendix 1.