Monteiro and Muller aim to close the gap to WTCC title leader López

Plenty of overtakes expected: Chilton pulled off pass of 2015 at Moscow Raceway

Home team LADA to get big fan boost


Yvan Muller needs points and fast when the FIA World Touring Car Championship reaches the halfway stage of the 2016 season in Moscow next week (10-12 June).

The Frenchman trails Citroën team-mate José María López by 110 points following his double non-finish at the Nürburgring Nordschleife last month. While Muller left Germany on the back foot, López was in the ascendency after recording his fifth victory of the campaign.

Muller has yet to win in 2016 as he bids for a record-extending fifth WTCC title. But the championship’s most successful driver arrives in Russia – a venue famed for its plentiful overtaking opportunities – boosted by his strong record at the Moscow Raceway – he won in 2013 and triumphed from the DHL pole position last season – and the backing of López, no less.

“Moscow is always a very good track for Yvan,” said the Argentine defending world champion. “He likes it very much but this is the only track that’s been very difficult for me.”

Tiago Monteiro also has ground to make up in the title fight. It was the Honda driver’s accident in Germany – the result of a punctured tyre – that eliminated Muller and hit his own championship ambitions hard. After suffering bruising in the heavy impact, Monteiro said: “I’ll be back in Russia as good as new and pushing as hard as ever.”

Monteiro’s factory Honda team-mates Rob Huff and Norbert Michelisz also hold realistic title ambitions after 10 rounds with Huff two points behind Monteiro and Michelisz two down on Huff. Mehdi Bennani, leader of the WTCC Trophy for independent racers, also cannot be discounted having won outright in Hungary earlier this season in his Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën. Polestar Cyan Racing duo Thed Björk and Fredrik Ekblom have shown promise in their works Volvos, while Nicky Catsburg scored his first podium for home team LADA in Slovakia back in April and will be hoping for inspiration from the Russian fans.

After Citroën won the inaugural Manufacturers Against the Clock (WTCC MAC3) contest in France by 0.030s, the spectacle was raised even further when it tied on time with Honda in Slovakia, meaning both makes picked up 10 points towards their WTCC Manufacturers’ championship totals. Honda took a narrow win in Hungary after Citroën was penalised following a track limits infringement by Mehdi Bennani as the ethos of team competition came to the fore. LADA was also punished for the same offence. Honda then lost out in Morocco when Norbert Michelisz crashed, but it recovered in Germany by beating Citroën in a close fight as LADA non-started following Hugo Valente’s qualifying smash. And this is how the Tour de France-inspired team time trial works: Citroën, Honda and LADA (Polestar will participate when it enters a third car from 2017) nominate three drivers to take part in WTCC MAC3, which follows Qualifying Q3 once all cars have been refuelled and fitted with new tyres. As soon as a team’s three cars leave the grid side by side, the clock starts and then stops once the last car completes two flying laps. Failure to get all three cars over the line – or if the second or third car doesn’t finish within a maximum of 15 seconds after the first car – means no points.

The Moscow Raceway is famed for its overtaking opportunities thanks, in part, to the long straight heading into the final corner. Here’s a reminder of Tom Chilton’s pass at the track in 2015, chosen as the best overtake of the year:

James Thompson will make his third appearance in this season’s FIA World Touring Car Championship after getting the call from ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport to deputise for lead driver and team patron René Münnich. Thompson started the Opening Race in Morocco on the reverse-grid DHL pole position only for a nudge from Hugo Valente to cause him to crash out. He’ll be out for revenge in Russia.

NEW FOR 2016
Hello Opening Race and Main Race!
: Gone are Race 1 and Race 2 for 2016, in their place come Opening Race and Main Race with the reverse-grid now used for the first clash of the weekend and the grid for the second event based on the results of Qualifying.

WTCC Premium TV: Bringing the WTCC’s video content to fans through mobile apps (iOS and Android) and online, WTCC TV Premium TV is a high-quality, interactive subscription service costing €9.95 for a weekend or €59.95 for a season. Included in the package is the world feed plus a choice of 10 on-board cameras, no geo-blocking, video on demand, plus stats and facts.
WTCC Fan Village: There will be fast-paced entertainment on and off the track in the WTCC this season with the WTCC Fan Village featuring displays, meet the driver sessions, music, merchandising and a WTCC Hall of Fame. Entry is free.
New partnerships: TAG Heuer and OSCARO are welcomed as Official Series Partners. JVCKENWOOD’s renewed commitment will bring team radio to TV, Polestar will provide the Official Safety Car, the Volvo V60 Polestar, while a new alliance with the Goodwood Festival of Speed will bring WTCC ‘art cars’ to the annual motorsport extravaganza this month. DHL, the WTCC’s Official Logistics Partner, will present the DHL Pole Position Award at every event. The new TAG Heuer Best Lap award goes to the driver setting the weekend’s fastest race lap of all.

World champion José María López and Yvan Muller remain in factory C-Elysée WTCCs. Privateer squad Sébastien Loeb Racing expands to a three-car effort with Tom Chilton and Grégoire Demoustier joining Mehdi Bennani.

Honda: Independent champion Norbert Michelisz gets his big factory break, while Rob Huff joins from LADA. Tiago Monteiro stays put but there’s no drive for Gabriele Tarquini
LADA: Gabriele Tarquini continues in the WTCC at LADA after leaving Honda. Hugo Valente is handed a dream works ride after impressing as a privateer. Nicky Catsburg gets a full season.
Polestar: Volvo’s performance brand begins its long-term WTCC campaign with two S60 Polestar TC1s for Scandinavian Touring Car aces Thed Björk and Fredrik Ekblom.
WTCC Trophy: Bennani, Chilton and Demoustier aside, Tom Coronel is back for WTCC season 12 in his privateer Chevrolet. John Filippi turned 21 in February and gets Yvan Muller as a driver coach. John Bryan-Meisner crosses over from single-seater racing, while James Thompson deputises for René Münnich, who is busy with his World Rallycross Championship duties, which he’s combining with his WTCC campaign. Zengo Motorsport will enter two Hondas for Hungarian youngsters Ferenc Ficza and Dániel Nagy.

World champion José María López arrives in Russia with a bulging title lead having taken five wins from 10 starts so far in 2016. But, like factory Citroën team-mate Yvan Muller, his car will be 50 kilograms heavier than the chasing Hondas under the compensation weight system. The Argentine will also look to last year’s troubled trip to Moscow when a drive-through penalty for a jumped start cost him dear in the second race, while Muller is considered a Moscow master having claimed his second win – from pole – at the venue in 2015.

Race wins in 2016:
López 5; Huff 2; Bennani, Coronel and Monteiro 1

Pole positions in 2016: López 3; Huff and Muller 1
Fastest laps in 2016: López 3; Huff 2; Bennani, Chilton, Muller, Tarquini and Valente 1
Laps led in 2016: López 43; Huff 38; Bennani 22; Catsburg 7; Valente 6; Monteiro 5
All-time race wins (top 5): Y Muller 47, Huff 29, López 26, Menu 23, Tarquini 20
All-time pole positions (top 5): Y Muller 29, López 17, Tarquini 17, Menu 15, Huff 12
All-time fastest laps (top 5): Y Muller 38, Huff 26, López 24, Tarquini 23, Menu 20
All-time laps led (top 5): Y Muller 565, Huff 344, Menu 297, Tarquini 274, López 266

Race 1: Yvan Muller (Citroën C-Elysée); Race 2: Tiago Monteiro (Honda Civic)

2014: R1: José María López (Citroën C-Elysée); R2: Ma Qing Hua (Citroën C-Elysée)
2013: R1: Yvan Muller (Chevrolet Cruze); R2: Michel Nykjær (Chevrolet Cruze)

Moscow Raceway

Russia’s Volga River is the longest in Europe at around 3690km/2293m, and the country also has the world’s largest freshwater lake – Lake Baikal – with a depth of 5387ft/1642m. It contains around 20 per cent of the world’s unfrozen fresh water.

If José María López can secure the DHL pole position in Russia then he will become the second most successful driver in the history of the WTCC in terms of top spots won. He’s currently tied with Gabriele Tarquini on 17. Yvan Muller holds the record on 29.

Yvan Muller made Russian motorsport history when he became the first driver to win a WTCC race in the country back in 2013 2: More history was made the following year when Ma Qing Hua became the first driver from China to win an FIA world championship motor race with victory in the second event 3: LADA’s first podium with its Vesta TC1 car came at the Moscow Raceway in 2015 courtesy of Rob Huff’s second place finish.

HOW THEY STAND (after Round 10 of 24)*
1 López 193; 2 Monteiro 124; 3 Huff 122; 4 Michelisz 120; 5 Bennani 103; 6 Muller 83; etc. Manufacturers: 1 Citroën 447; 2 Honda 378; 3 LADA 205; 4 Volvo-Polestar 111. WTCC Trophy: 1 Bennani 95; 2 Chilton 78; 3 Coronel 55; 4 Filippi 39; 5 Demoustier 38; 6 Ficza 24; etc. WTCC Teams’ Trophy: 1 Sébastien Loeb Racing 164; 2 ROAL Motorsport 52; 3 Campos Racing 42; 4 ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport 39; 5 Zengo Motorsport 27. *Full standings are available at

Fredrik Ekblom (Polestar Cyan Racing):
“The Russia race will be a first for both me and the team. But then again, that’s nothing new for this season. I have obviously never driven the track but it looks interesting and I will prepare as much as possible by watching onboard videos and driving a simulator. It will also be nice to visit Russia as this is a strong market for Volvo.”

Rob Huff (Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team): “It’s a fantastic track and very unique in that the grip level is very low compared to anywhere else we go. It’s very slippery but very abrasive at the same time. Last year you had the four world champions in the top four grid positons with Muller, López, then Tarquini and me fourth. That speaks for itself in the sense of how you have to adapt quite differently to the track. It’s great for racing as we’ve seen and the last three years we’ve been there has provided a fantastic spectacle as a race. It’s also very challenging for a driver because it’s so easy to over-drive the track and lose time. You have to have a good balance in the car and trust your instincts to tell yourself you can’t always push.”

José María López (Citroën Total WTCC): “I think we are going to struggle. Moscow is always a very good track for Yvan [Muller, Citroën team-mate]. He likes it very much but this is the only track that’s been very difficult for me. Now I need to start to think of the championship. I have taken all the risks and won all the races I have to win and now it’s down to the others to take risks and maybe I can take my foot off the gas. It’s still a long way to go but it’s very nice to be [leading the championship by 69 points] and I am sure everyone else would like to be in this position.”

Hugo Valente (LADA Sport Rosneft): “Driving for LADA gives me my second home race after France and I’m very excited to go there as a LADA driver. Moscow Raceway is a track with overtaking opportunities and I’m expecting two good races because the championship is very close. I remember the circuit not being very grippy in some places but it’s the same for everyone. Of course it’s an important weekend for LADA and Rosneft so I really want to get a good result there. Rob [Huff] did some good races at the Moscow Raceway when he was a LADA driver last year and finished on the podium in the second race. You have to believe everything is possible.”

Tom Chilton (Sébastien Loeb Racing, WTCC Trophy): “Because I love to go flat out, I’m not a fan of the terrible traffic in Moscow – the ring road reminds me of the M25 back home, which is why I’m so happy when I get to the Moscow Raceway! The track has a great combination of corners, which really complements the WTCC race package for the year. The racing is very close and always brings out some great over taking manoeuvres. Saying that I was happy to have been voted number one overtake of 2015 in the WTCC. Following on from a double podium at the Nordschleife, I’m really feeling confident in my office, the car, and with Sébastien Loeb Racing. I’m hoping to collect some more important points for the championship.”

Moscow Raceway (

Location: 39 Sheludkovo Village, Volokolamsky District, Moscow Region, 143650, Russia
Length: 3.931 kilometres Opening Race distance: 16 laps Main Race distance: 17 laps
Lap record (qualifying): Yvan Muller (Citroën C-Elysée), 1m37.900s (144.60kph), 06/06/15
Lap record (race): José María López (Citroën C-Elysée), 1m40.148s (141.307kph), 08/06/14
WTCC appearances: Three
Time zone: GMT +3 hours Sunrise/sunset: 03h45/21h14 (Sunday 12 June)
Average temperature: 13°C-22°C (June)
The venue: Opening for business in 2012, the Hermann Tilke-designed Moscow Raceway is one of the newest venues on the WTCC calendar. And with home manufacturer LADA – backed up by Rosneft, Russia’s petroleum industry leader – going from strength-to-strength in the championship, the WTCC’s fourth visit to Russia takes on added significance. The track’s layout, particularly the long penultimate straight, promotes great racing and plenty of overtaking: Rob Huff described the inaugural WTCC race in 2013 as the “best ever”. With two wins from a possible six and the qualifying lap record, Citroën factory driver Yvan Muller is currently the Moscow Raceway master.
The timetable: ?Following Friday’s solitary 30-minute test, Saturday features a rapid-fire schedule with Free Practice 1 and 2, Qualifying and WTCC MAC3 taking place within a six-hour window. Sunday’s Opening Race is due to begin at 12h15 with the Main Race at 13h30.

Hugo Valente forms part of the three-strong LADA Sport Rosneft challenge in the FIA World Touring Car Championship. This is his guide to his team’s home circuit, the 3.931-kilometre Moscow Raceway. “The first corner is a very fast corner, fifth gear and one of the fastest on the circuit. It’s quite a short distance from the start to the first corner and because it’s so fast there can be some contact and we’ve seen it in the past. It’s quite late braking for Turn 2 where you can jump a bit onto the kerb and take a bit of grass on the inside. Turn 3 is probably the hardest of the track. It’s very long and very tricky under braking with a lot of oversteer and a very late apex as well. We’ve seen different lines on that particular corner throughout the sessions last year. It’s important to keep on the inside on the entry and maybe go a bit wider in the middle to get the narrow apex and be ready for Turn 4. In fact Turn 3 to Turn 5 is where you can make the gap because it’s very difficult into Turn 3 and you also need to get the right speed in Turn 4 through to Turn 5 because you’ll carry this speed all the way through to Turn 9. While Turn 6 is flat out, T9 is interesting. It’s quite fast coming over the crest and the car is usually very oversteering. It’s difficult to overtake into Turn 9 but it’s easy to make a mistake with a lot of oversteer. If you have a good exit you can go for it into Turn 10, a small left where you must carry speed on the entry, even though it’s not a normal place to overtake. You can also overtake at Turn 12 if you get the Turn 9/Turn 10 section wrong you will be attacked by other drivers. It’s fair to say that Turn 9 to 12 is a very difficult combination of corners. You can be overtaken into Turn 12 but in qualifying you need to take a wide line on the exit. Turns 13 and 14 and more difficult than they look on paper because the apex is very late into Turn 13, while it’s important to have a good exit out of Turn 14 because it will have a big impact on your speed for the long straight if you get it wrong.”
Hugo Valente’s perfect passing place: “Turn 15 is where most overtakes will happen but it won’t be so easy if you get a bad exit out of Turn 14.”

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 for independent racers, 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.

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